Instead of writing poetry about current affairs, why not have a go at making poetry out of them? Newspaper and magazine articles provide an abundance of words ready for poetic manipulation. Cartoonist and poet Austin Kleon crafts his Blackout Poetry by erasing words in news articles with a marker pen. Often moving and always interesting, these poems push the boundaries of the poetic form and reveal surprising snapshots of beauty in blocks of newsprint.
The practise of text alchemy has been a long standing one, with poet Tom Phillips creating visual masterpieces such as these in the 1970’s.
With a pair of scissors and a bit of imagination a news article can be turned into a thing of beauty. The radical Dadist movement of the 1920’s shook up the news by cutting up and rearranging its parts. Here is a word from the father of the Dadist movement on how it’s done:
- -Take a newspaper.
- -Take a pair of scissors.
- -Choose an article as long as you are planning to make your poem.
- -Cut out the article.
- -Then cut out each of the words that make up this article and put them in a bag.
- -Shake it gently.
- -Then take out the scraps one after the other in the order in which they left the bag.
- -Copy conscientiously.
- -The poem will be like you.
- -And here you are a writer, infinitely original and endowed with a sensibility that is charming though beyond the understanding of the vulgar.
Why not pick up your local paper and make news into poetry? Upload your alchemic creations to the GPS website to put them on the global poetry map.
Global Poetry System is a user generated world map of poetry found at www.southbankcentre.co.uk/gps
For more newspaper poets and text alchemists, including Tom Phillips and Sam Winston, visit the poetry library website.