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Newspaper Blackout Poems

A newspaper blackout poem by Austin Kleon
A newspaper blackout poem by Austin Kleon

Austin Kleon, author of Steal Like an Artist and Show Your Work, also has a book called Newspaper Blackout.  He recently participated in a Twitter chat, #edbookchat, co-moderated by Chris Couch (@the_explicator), which found its way into my Twitter stream.  Austin, who lives in Austin (fancy that!), has posted some of his poetry on his blog here. He creates one of these each day, and posts them on Instagram.  I find this method of creating poems so intriguing.  To take a piece of writing that is meant to be informative and light on figurative language, and make it into a work of art that speaks deeply and lyrically really appeals to my appreciation for irony, I suppose.  I want to try this with my students, but I’m still working out the logistics (which grade levels, how much to scaffold, etc…)  And then there’s the newspaper.  Do I limit it to certain sections and/or articles?  Or maybe I should start with a Scholastic Weekly Reader, or a website, or a picture on the iPad of a textbook page.  So many possibilities!

Regardless of the educational implications, it’s Phun Phriday, so you don’t have to stick this in a lesson plan.  Just read, and appreciate the talent of Austin Kleon!

(Strangely, right after I saved my draft of this post, I saw a tweet from @PrincipalOgg about a great writing blog.  I followed the link, and found a recent post on “Erasure Poetry.”  I highly recommend you visit “Two Writing Teachers” for some more awesome ideas!)

UPDATE:  After this post was shared on Twitter, Mr. Theriault (@davidtedu) shared this link to a Slideshare about creating Novel Blackout Poetry by Sean Ziebarth (@MrZiebarth).  Thanks for the tip, Mr. Theriault!  And, one of my Tweeps, @ArinKress, was inspired to create her own Newspaper Blackout Poem and share it.  The pic is a bit difficult to read, but it says, “Enough with worrying when falling because we all stumble.”  Love it!

UPDATE 2 (3/30/2022): Here is an article I did on an online “Blackout Poetry Maker.” Also, see even more Poetry Lesson ideas here!

7 thoughts on “Newspaper Blackout Poems”

  1. We did the found poem/parallel poem from the ReadWriteThink website – so fun. I used Wonder – our class read aloud – and we picked the section where Via is talking about life as Auggie’s sister (A Tour of the Galaxy). Our poem ended up being a bit ‘dark’ but the kids got the idea and loved it. One of my kids last year did his Passion Project for PYP Exhibition on writing and was enamoured with Austin Kleon and his blackout poetry. He did it will all sorts of things as well as newspapers. I love what he does with horoscopes. Very clever. Thanks for the other poetry links – we are starting a six week unit and so far so good but always fun to get new ideas. Happy Friday!

    1. I love the idea of using Wonder for the parallel poetry! I have been wanting to use that book in my classroom, and I’m determined to do it with at least one of my grade levels – or maybe as a Book Club. That’s really neat that a student focused on Austin Kleon for his Passion Project. I may need to buy a couple of Kleon’s books; they look fascinating.

      1. Steal Like An Artist is awesome. You would love it (if you haven’t read it already). His website has great poems. So clever. Wonder….quite possibly the best book ever. My kids are in love with it – and they “get” it. It is so easy for them to relate to. Talk about text to self connections – they leap out the book! It is brilliant. I honestly think I could structure an entire curriculum around the book.

      1. Currently, fourth. Have used it with fifth too. I am reading it aloud with my kids and we have such great discussions and still reference themes/characters etc long after we have read them. I love it – and would love to work with Mr. Tushman as my principal! When I left my last school, the kids gave me a copy of the book that they all signed. At their fifth grade graduation, I quoted parts of the book. It is just such a good read.

  2. I forgot about this from a few years ago…thanks, I agree it’s brilliant and fun creativity! Right after I learned about it I did this with one of my company’s jargon-filled news releases. It got lots of good laughs from the people I showed it to.

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