I find that drama textbooks and religious texts make the
easiest best black out poems. Here’s some I prepared earlier.
So I took a Sharpie to Freud’s On Psychopathology…
More words à la Newspaper Blackout.
It’s a rough draft of a day.
Brain: Oh you wanna spell that?
Me: Yes please, I need to put this word is some public place where it is likely that someone will judge my grasp of the English language based on this sentence.
Brain: Ha! No. No words for you.
Me: Oh come on, I use ‘definitely’ all the time!
Brain: No. No words for you. This week you can spell onomatopoeia, Macedonian, and dysfunction but ‘fruit’, ‘definitely’ and the correct use of ‘stationery’ is out of the question.
Me: You’re ruining me.
Brain: Just for that, I’m taking your maths skills too.
Me: But I barely had any to begin with!
Brain: Let’s see how well you work without the ability to count.
Me: Fuck you.
Brain: Oh, and you’re afraid the cat is sick today.
Brain: Yep, the cat’s going die and you’ve left the stove and the iron on. Your house is going to burn down. You’re fucked.
So I was going to word today. I was going to write and edit and have all the literary wordy-words reclining on the screen, being fed grapes from a vine and lightly caressing your eyeballs with a stanza or two. But apparently that’s not happening today, or this week. So instead I just tried to make words my friend, because I’m stubborn like that.
Maybe a creaky little old draft
The house of the Nekorb,
made of human bones
has one-way windows
and bloodwood doors.
The house of the Nekorb,
rented by shadows,
has holes in the roof
and a couch made of stones.
There are no mirrors
no silverware, no mantles
no beds, no stairs,
no toilets or phones.
But the walls are lined with portraits,
there’s photographs in the hall,
the fridge is always full
and the heat is always on.
And the house itself is happy
and the ghouls don’t like to moan
the bats clean up their guano
and make my ribs their home.
Quick Lit shake up
This Text Thursday is brought to you by literary mash-ups. A mash-up, much like Austin Kleon’s Black out poems or Dada‘s cut up technique is about taking a pre-existing text and finding new narratives within it. Kleon’s poems are born of crossing out all but a few words to create a new text. The Dadaists cut up texts, re-arranged the words and formed new sentences. The mash-up takes a text and stretches it, filling the spaces between words with new words to form a narrative. It was first introduced to me by one of my poetry lecturers, Gareth Jenkins. He also pointed out that it’s a good idea to use non fiction texts as they are often the most unintentionally poetic (much like Kleon’s newspaper’s eh?).
for copyright reasons because I happen to have a copy of Bernard Shaw’s Back to Methuselah (1945), I’m going to use that as an example.
So, page x (10) of the Preface – ‘Political Inadequacy of the Human Animal’
Ten more years elapsed. Neo-Darwinismin in politics had produced a European catastrophe of a magnitude so appalling, and a scope so unpredictable, that as I write these lines in 1920, it is still far from certain whether our civilization will survive it (Shaw 1945).
and then stretch it, add a few words (and in this case I’m taking a few out) and it might become:
“Ten more years elapsed. Darwinism drove men to politics, lovers curled themselves around a European bouquet of love, catastrophes, explosions of hearts; petals on the cobblestones, a tapestry of such magnitude, so appalling, the scope of their spirits, the trickling sound as they slip their way through the gutters, unpredictable, a doctor, a wife, gushing out the lines of pavement into storm water drains, into 1920. Still and far from the certainty of each others’ pockets, a civilization of lovers, survived only by the city.”
It’s a lot of fun and sometimes you can even get some usable lines out of it, if not a whole poem.
Other great mash-up texts might include: religious texts, pamphlets, instruction manuals, menus, bills, and so on.
Lots of seemingly un-poetic texts contain narratives, you just need the tools to find them.
Shaw, B, 1945, Back to Methuselah, Oxford University Press, London, p X.