Last week, Steve from Found Fiction hosted two Blackout Poetry sessions especially for Arts Together partners as part of our Enjoy at Home commissions. Steve started off by explaining what Blackout poetry is, then showed us the technology – we were encouraged to use the same digital texts and black out text using either Paint (on a PC) or Review (on a Mac), and then we all had a go at writing a poem and sharing with the group. We did a couple more and then the hour and a half was suddenly up. The texts he had sent us in advance were three reviews (of gigs or theatre shows), three adverts and three menus. We were all amazed at how rich the language was within these types of writing. But people also used their own own hard copy and a marker pen – using everything from museum brochures to Heat magazine!
At first, it took everyone some time to get used to the strictness of only being able to use words consecutively, but Steve generously allowed us to jump around and be creative with arrows if we wanted: it’s really just a way of sparking creativity and getting your brain to look at words and meaning and work out how you can connect them to say something original.
And from the feedback we had, people really enjoyed stepping out of their comfort zone, not least joining a Zoom call where you might not know anyone, and then reading out a poem you’d just written! And I think everyone felt proud and quite surprised of what they’d managed to achieve. Have a look at some of our efforts.
Why not have a go yourself? Steve has produced a handy one page download to describe the technique so you can try it yourself at home using any text you can find around you. And do feel free to send us in any poems you write – we love to know if people are taking up the challenge.
You can download the pdf here.