Blog Teaching Writing

Blackout Poetry: Defying the Blank Page


Learn about blackout poetry: what it is, how to find good examples, and how to get your class started making with and writing within this fascinating art form.

Originally published on April 10, 2020

Why Blackout Poetry?

Creating a Blackout Poem

Newspaper article showing “Stimulus will work against COVID-19…”.

The current pandemic has affected every aspect of my life, and I am concerned about the future due to climate change. So, the idea that a stimulus package can work against both caught my attention. I picked the article based on my own interest.

Newspaper clipping about COVID-19 with words outlined in black boxes for poetry.

After reading the article, I sat and gathered my thoughts. I could have used it to write on anything I wanted, but my thoughts were on the effects of Covid-19 and climate change. I then gathered the words and created my poem.

After you have completed your poem, decorate it. Many of the examples that you will find online are beautiful pieces of art with an image skillfully illustrated that relates with the content of the poem. However, if you do not feel comfortable in your artistic ability, simply black out the entire page leaving only the parts that make up your poem. Do whatever you are comfortable with, but it is fun to face a new challenge, so push yourself in the design of your poem.

Newspaper clipping about COVID-19 with mask drawn over it in black ink and boxes around words with earth drawing in lower left.

I wanted to do more than just black out the background texts, so I wanted to come up with an image that I feel represents the content of the poem. The poem deals with self-care and environmental-care, and I feel that surgical masks have come to represent this.

Poem: Struggling for Air

Blackout Poems in the Classroom