Newspaper Blackout by Austin Kleon (Harper Perennial, April 13, 2010), 208 pages
Austin Kleon picked up a marker and the New York Times and started creating poetry.
This is a really cool idea (although not unique to Kleon, as he points out in the book’s introduction). I love that he’s creating by subtracting (or destroying, as he said it), deconstructing another written work.
Some of the pieces seem totally meaningless to me, but others have real depth. I was drawn to this book because of the newspaper aspect, I think. I’m not a huge poetry aficionado.
The wrong punctuation in some of the poems really distracted me — why didn’t he black out that errant comma or hyphen? Such choices just made the piece(s) confusing and didn’t add anything.
The first section was my least favorite; I’m not sure if I just didn’t connect with the content or what. I call it a “section,” because, although the book isn’t divided into sections, it does seem to follow a sort of narrative. At first it felt that the poems were just presented in no particular order, but gradually a thread appeared. This may be one of my favorite aspects of the book.
I wanted some of the poems to be longer, to jump from one page to the next.
The book also includes a tutorial on creating your own blackout poems.
In some ways, I might prefer a daily or weekly dose of such poems (such as, via Kleon’s blog) to the book (that I read straight through, pretty quickly), but really, a daily dose and the book are two separate animals.
About the author
Austin Kleon is, in his own words, “a writer, cartoonist, designer, and visual thinker obsessed with the art of communicating with pictures and words, together.” He’s @austinkleon on Twitter.
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I received this book from the publisher.