What is Blackout Poetry? | Origin, Advantages and Disadvantages

Herein, we will be learning about the meaning, origin, function, and a step-by-step approach on how to do blackout poetry. Stay calm, as you read through this article.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the name. Blackout Poetry, is to me, probably the simplest and most interesting form of poetry ever found. If I’m asked to say why, I will point out that Blackout Poetry serves more as a beginner’s guide. 

Besides, it’s an easy way, that a poet short of words, could use in communicating what he feels about a subject matter. 

However, it’s hard to maintain, in terms of communication. The reason is that; the poet will have to express himself, with just the words available in the piece [newspaper, magazines, etc.] he has gotten. Therefore, this could limit the poet’s use of words.

Oftentimes, blackout poetry is done, just for fun sake. Mind you, not every poem, or other article, must make sense, according to Literature.

Besides, entertainment is one of the functions of literature. Therefore, you can just practise/do your own black-out poetry, for fun sake.  Feel free to begin. 

What is Blackout Poetry?

Blackout poetry is a form of poetry, where poets are required to write a poem, by picking out words that attract them in a book, newspaper, etc. Hence, words that attract the poet are fished out in two ways:

  • By circling the words.
  • By shading other words around your word of interest.

It’s called Blackout Poetry, because the shading, or circling method, is oftentimes done with a black pen/marker. 


Blackout Poetry is a form of found poetry, where poets make a poem with an article, a newspaper, etc. by shading out unnecessary words and leaving the words that suit them, untouched. 

Simply put, Blackout poetry is another style of poem composition, where the black-shaded portions of your book are counted out of the poem.

Yeah! Poets who are short of what to write about, are the most likely people who welcome this style of poem writing. 

Bringing out the unshaded parts of a newspaper, or so, that you have gotten, helps to give you an idea of a good poem to write out. 

Read Also: 30 Prose Synonyms

The image below is an example of Blackout Poetry. 

What is Blackout Poetry? | Origin, Advantages and Disadvantages

The Origin of Blackout Poetry

We were able to come to a wonderful conclusion, after broad research, on the origin of blackout poetry. The fact is that Blackout Poetry has been in existence, for a very long time, with the main establisher, unknown. It has no definite origin. 

However, it can be traced back to Austin Kleon, in about the 18th century, when he wrote a book titled: Newspaper Blackout. Having published it, Carroll discovered the book, to be the first article on blackout poetry. 

Besides, I know one thing. How black came into the term Blackout Poetry. 

It is that most times, the shaded portion of the magazines or papers is done with black markers. 

Advantages of Blackout Poetry Disadvantages of Blackout Poetry
Less thought. You don’t have to think broadly, about what to pen down on your empty paper. All you need to do is circle out the words you think would make up a good poem for you when put together.It breaks Communication. Since you’re depending on what someone else has done, then, you are more likely to be short of words… Hence, you may not be able to adequately pass across your intended message, to your audience.

Saves Time. Since you don’t have to think all day before writing a single poem, then, this form of found poetry helps to manage your time.
It may be expensive to practise. Unlike the normal way of writing a poem, blackout poetry may require spending. Knowing that if you are to write something that comes from your emotions, then you’re not spending a dime. But for Blackout Poetry, you will have to buy a magazine, newspaper, or other types of articles, written in a book to practise. 

It could serve as a beginner’s guide. For upcoming poets, this is one of, if not the best method of compositing a poem, quickly.

How to do Blackout Poetry

Let’s say something about making blackout poetry too. Practising Blackout Poetry, is quite easy to do. This is all that you should do:

  • Get written material, for instance, a newspaper. 
  • Identify the words that interest you, for Blackout: Make sure that when brought out, in order, the words express a complete sense of the poem. 
  • Circle the words: Having recognized the words that will be a perfect fit for your poem, circle them with a black marker/pen. Otherwise, you shade other parts as odd words.
  • Reread: Rereading your left-out words, is just like the proofreading process in a novel publication. The essence is to confirm that no mistake is made.
  • Bring out the words: At this point, you are done making your first black-out poetry, and you have to write it out, as in a poem.

Ensure that as you blackout your poem, your wordings are coherent. 

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