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Blackout Poetry: Home

From great literature comes great poetry! Here you'll find links to an online page that helps you create blackout poetry, as well as suggested literature to use.

What is Blackout Poetry?

There's an old legend that when Michelangelo was asked how he made his exquisite statue of David, he answered that he just chipped away everything that didn't look like David. He never actually said this, but that's okay, because it's the perfect way to explain blackout poetry.

In blackout poetry, you take a page of text – say, from a book or a magazine – and you black out everything that doesn't look like poetry to you. And when you're done? Poetry!

Here's what it looks like before and after:

Before

After

How do you create blackout poetry?

There are two ways you can do this:

  1. With a physical book 

    1. If you have a book you're not particularly fond of, grab a black marker and choose a page (or several pages) to work with.

    2. Use the marker to black out any words that you don't like.

    3. When you're done, take a photo of your poem. Share it on Instagram or Facebook and tag it with #penfieldblackoutpoetry!

  2. Online

    1. Go to the Blackout Poetry Maker

    2. Choose a source! They provide some examples in the left column of that page, and we have some additional suggestions in the right-hand column of this page. These are just ideas - paste in whatever you'd like!

    3. Click on all the words you want to keep. Changed your mind about a word? Just click on it again to unselect it.

    4. When you're done, click on the black out. button below the text.

      Not happy with the results? Just click reset.

    5. Click on the Render square button; it will show you your poem as an image file. Right click (or control-click on a Mac) and select Save image as.

    6. Share it on Instagram or Facebook and tag it with #penfieldblackoutpoetry!

Would you prefer a how-to video?

Suggested Literature Links

Project Gutenberg is a website that gathers books and other texts that are in the public domain. That means that you can legally use any of the texts - no need to worry about copyright issues! 

In honor of Women's History month, we've picked a few books you might want to use for your blackout poetry.

Ask a Librarian