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Book Review: *Newspaper Blackout* by Austin Kleon

  • Newspaper Blackout by Austin Kleon
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1 edition (April 13, 2010)
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061732973
  • Back-of-the-book blurb:  Poet and cartoonist Austin Kleon has discovered a new way to read between the lines. Armed with a daily newspaper and a permanent marker, he constructs through deconstruction—eliminating the words he doesn’t need to create a new art form: Newspaper Blackout poetry.

    Kleon’s verse ranges from provocative to lighthearted, and from moving to hysterically funny, and undoubtedly entertaining. Newspaper Blackout will challenge you to find new meaning in the familiar and inspiration from the mundane.

    She is Too Fond of Books’ review:  Newspaper Blackout is one of the most unusual and FUN books I’ve read.  It is such a unique technique (say that ten times fast!) – using newspaper articles (the author, Austin Kleon, is partial to the Arts and Metro sections of the NYT) and a Sharpie as the raw material for short poems that run the gamut from funny and imaginative to more serious and introspective.

    Of course, it takes more than newspaper and a permanent marker to write poetry.  Kleon adds his creativity, and the results show a gift for crafting with the written word.

    Kleon begins the book with a short history of altered books and found poetry, beginning 250 years ago when a well-to-do London merchant found gems in his newspaper – by reading across from one article to another, instead of reading down to an article’s completion.  He gives examples of some of the ancient pairings – who knew our forefathers had such a wicked sense of humor?!

    The bulk of Newspaper Blackout are full-page renditions of the poetry – black backgrounds with words that pop off the page, forming these clever poems.  Words and phrases may be pulled intact from an article, or fit together like a puzzle from various lines.  Sometimes the placement of the words or their size creates a visual image as well.

    Kleon also guides the reader through the process of creating blackout poetry, giving tips and strategies for finding “anchors” to that will lead the process.  He uses commuting time (on the bus, not behind the wheel!) to compose his.  I tell you, it’s harder than it looks – but it’s addictive!

    Grab a copy of Newspaper Blackout, a newspaper, and a marker … then have fun!

    Watch this 5-minute video to see some samples of his work, and a time-lapse creation of a blackout poem:

    About the author:  Austin Kleon is a writer, cartoonist, and designer living in Austin, Texas with his wife, Meghan.  The Austin Kleon blog is a daily dose of fun, with Newspaper Blackout poetry, tips on visual note-taking, and other short and entertaining posts.

    FTC disclosure:  review copy provided by the publisher

    9 comments to Book Review: *Newspaper Blackout* by Austin Kleon

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