Blackout poetry has been my favourite writing technique we’ve been exposed to this semester. I like the idea of finding a new way to create or present something from a piece that someone else has already loved or torn themselves apart for. The idea that a writer could have read their own words over again and again, rewritten it tens or hundreds of times over, to use the exact words to make the sentence, paragraph or page perfect. Only then to feel almost resentful to that piece because of the painstaking measures it took to complete it. The idea that I could then find new meaning in their words, to show a new form of magic or mystery, to create something beautiful that really, came from them to begin with. To me, that’s something to be admired.
We looked extensively at A Humument by Tom Phillips, a Victorian text which was reconstructed into blackout poetry. The pieces were very surrealistic, something I really enjoy working with as a writer and, on occasion, terrible artist.
In the workshop we were given random pages from several texts and asked to choose one that stood out to us. I decided not to agonise over it, and instead pick one without reading it first to see where it took me. From there we were given different materials to make it either colourful or three-dimensional. Admittedly I stayed within the realm of two-dimensional. The words I found created their own sort of poetry. Something sad and almost bitter, speaking of human connection and consciousness (or sub-conscious).
swings from simplicity
dream and promise
extract human memories
an imaginary act
a holistic phenomenon”
I used water colour pencils to cover the page in erratic swirls, and drew a naked, sleeping girl in fine-liner, upside-down. It seemed to fit, and I liked it a lot.
I have decided to do this for one of my four large pieces of assessment. I’ll get an assortment of pages and create my own blackout poetry, and then edit them in Photoshop.
Not only were the texts presented to us in the workshop helpful and inspirational, a range of blackout text can be found online that isn’t published. For instance, you could find a range of blackout poetry on Pinterest or Google Images just for inspiration, that said none of these fragments are as beautiful, or I believe as sophisticated, as A Humument, which is now the latest addition to my bookcase.