Blackout Poetry in the Stars

The summer of 2011 I stumbled upon Austin Kleon‘s work sitting on a shelf in a bookstore. Not heeding the title of one of his books, Steal Like an Artist, I immediately purchased that along with his work of poetry, Newspaper Blackout. I loved the poems he created with a permanent marker and the restrictions of a newspaper– the surprising twists and truths coming out from the somber printed news as though he was panning those articles for gold.

When I returned to school that fall, I organized a Blackout Poetry event for Grapheon, our school’s literary society, by raiding the recycling bins and buying a few dozen sharpies. It turns out that I do know how to steal like an artist after all. Today I am sharing two of my blackout poems that I have kept over the years. Only one is from a newspaper, the other from an old children’s book on astronomy. In a way, they are both about the stars.


Kylie Louise McCormick

sky revealed 
remote galaxies 
like ours
or closer

The entire region 
faint glow

fluorescent lamps
do not cause
starlight scattered

are dark
visible as silhouettes
two parallel 
"coal sacks"
near the star 


Kylie Louise McCormick

Taking refuge
away from
your best
accomplishing little.

3 thoughts on “Blackout Poetry in the Stars”

  1. Such fantastic pieces. I never tried out blackout poetry, but have seen many great pieces. Yours, in particular, have encouraged me to give this a potential try at it. Beautiful poems as well here with profound meaning. It’s marvelous how you can create different words and phrases with this method. <3

    1. Kylie Louise McCormick

      Thank you, Lucy!
      I would love to see what you create when you try it out and I hope you share it on your page. I think that my favorite part of blackout poetry is that it surprises me as I am making it– it is totally unexpected until the very end. It is a good exercise for when you are struggling to come up with an idea or facing down some serious writer’s block.

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