Here’s a photo of Ryan and I working on the “blackout” shots:
The show has been getting some really good reviews, which makes me even sadder that I won’t be able to see it in person. Here’s the Riverfront Times:
Yesterday’s headlines are re-presented in traditional (old) media by a group of local and international artists in this inventive elegy to the death of print journalism. Idiosyncratic, methodical processes seek to replace or reclaim the generative grind of tangible print….Writer Austin Kleon uses a Sharpie to black out the majority of text on a page, suggesting that what’s left reveals poetic insight into otherwise prosaic reportage….Fact, here, becomes marginalia, while emotional and personal experiences surface as all that’s most articulate, memorable or worth remembering.
More pictures, some lifted from The Luminary’s Facebook page:
If any of you St. Louis folks still haven’t seen it, it’s open until March!
The content of this interview I did with Nate Burgos over at Design Feaster might be familiar to anyone who’s read my posts about blogging before, but you might want to take a look anyways.
On why I started a blog:
When you’re a writer in college, you have the ultimate luxury: a captive audience. Your teachers get paid to read your writing and your classmates pay to read your writing. And then, suddenly, you get out of college, and nobody gives a crap anymore. So you start a blog!
On my hatred of computers:
This might be blasphemous for a blogger to say, but I don’t like spending more time in front of a computer screen than I have to. The good stuff comes from your hands and your head. (The cartoonist Lynda Barry says, “In the digital age, don’t forget to use your digits!” A blog is just a delivery system—a way to get eyeballs looking at your stuff (and minds thinking about it).
Take a few minutes to watch this really fantastic video of the winners of the Oklahoman’s newspaper blackout poetry contest that I judged. They’re all fantastic, but when the winner, Rose Gorr, an 80-year-old grandmother of 33 (!) reads her poem it gives me chills! A round of applause to everybody: the poets, The Oklahoman, Tanner Herriott who shot the video, and especially Yvette Walker who co-ordinated the whole thing!
Walter Isaacson has written a front-page article for Time Magazine entitled “How To Save Your Newspaper.” The Oklahoman is taking their own approach to getting you to buy that Sunday paper:
Think a newspaper is good only for reading, recycling or wrapping dead fish?
Think again. Think … poetry.
Newspaper Blackout Poetry is the creation of poet Austin Kleon and only requires three things: a newspaper, a black marker and your creativity. We know you’ve got it, Oklahoma, and we’re willing to put our money where our mouth is.
Grab a copy of this Sunday’s The Oklahoman at CVS and other locations and pick any story from that paper. Take a marker and black out lines from the story, leaving only the words you want to remain visible. Those words become your poetry.
Your poem can rhyme, or not. It can be a haiku. It could be a limerick (keep it clean), it could be free-form. Kleon will help us pick the winner.
Bob Phillips and his great crew of Ryan Britt and Dan Stricklin came out to the house last night to interview me about the blackout poems for Texas Country Reporter. If you’re not familiar with the show, here’s a bit of background from the NYTimes article, “If It’s in Texas, the Texas Country Reporter Has Seen It“:
Bob Phillips, the Texas Country Reporter…barreling…with his television crew in his Ford Explorer daubed in the billowing red, white and blue of the Texas flag….Not much escapes Mr. Phillips, 56, a Lone Star Charles Kuralt, who has logged more than 35 years on the state’s back roads and may be the most-traveled man in Texas….Mr. Phillips’s half-hour programs already total more than 2,000 — about four times as many as his idol, Mr. Kuralt, produced for his CBS News segment “On the Road” from 1967 to 1980. They are broadcast weekly on 25 stations in Texas and afterward are beamed eight times a week on the rural satellite and cable network RFD-TV. The network…reaches some 30 million households nationally….
He has long been an institution in Texas, where he spent a dozen years as the spokesman for Dairy Queen and now shuttles between his television studio in Dallas and Beaumont, where he lives with his second wife, a television anchor.
Meanwhile, Texas Country Reporter has become a popular brand, with guidebooks, cookbooks, T-shirts and an annual October festival in Waxahachie, near Dallas, where more than 50,000 fans come to meet subjects from the shows…
Check out their Youtube channel to see some of the shows.
Here’s Dan, Bob, and me making a horrible face as I BS about something.
Here’s Ryan shooting a trick shot of the marker bleeding through the paper.
Here’s Ryan and Dan shooting some stills for the feature.
They were real nice guys, and even though the shoot was a little grueling (5 1/2 hours!) it was a good time. Bob asked terrific questions, and we had a good interview.
The segment won’t air in Texas for a couple months (nationwide will be even longer), but I’ll let y’all know when it does.
(Thanks to my wife Meg for taking the great photos!)
Read Between the Lines to Find Texas Poet’s Verse
Morning Edition, May 9, 2008
A poet in Texas is blacking out words in order to write. Instead of starting with a blank page, Austin Kleon grabs the New York Times and a permanent marker — and eliminates the words he doesn’t need. He recently transformed an article about a piano concert into a poem that begins: “Forget about trying to speak … the image is the travelogue.” The newspaper ends up more black than white, and shows another way to read between the lines.
My wife and I are huge NPR junkies, so this was quite a Friday treat. Welcome to new visitors, and thanks again to everyone who’s spread the word about them! You guys are awesome.
PS. Did this one on the bus this morning.
I was really surprised (but pleased!) when Samantha Grice called me last week and said that the National Post in Toronto was interested in running a few newspaper blackout poems in the “Avenue” section of Arts and Life. The National Post is a fairly conservative newspaper, but they’ve won several awards for their layout and graphic design. The article ran yesterday, and here’s what Samantha wrote up:
How to find poems buried in the headlines of this newspaper using only a Sharpie and your wits
BY SAMANTHA GRICE
The financial pages make the worst poems.
“No offense to business writers, but in one article the same word will repeat itself over and over,” explains Austin Kleon, a writer and comic artist from Cleveland who started making blackout poems a year ago. “I did a poem recently where the word was acquisition and it was repeated several times.”
Kleon prefers the city or arts sections for optimum poetic artistry. His newspaper of choice is The New York Times for no other reason than his wife has a subscription to the Gray Lady and big stacks often pile up in their apartment. Kleon figured he should do something artsy with them.
“I really like Sharpies and I was playing with a Sharpie one day and it just happened,” he explains. “I wish I had a better story.”
For a while Kleon was doing a daily poem, but one day he stopped and didn’t do another for almost a year. When several blogs recently lauded their genius, Kleon picked up his Sharpie again. “The problem is they are fairly time-intensive, believe it or not,” he says of the poems. “They take anywhere from a half-hour to an hour and for what you get, it seems like a long time.”
Fans of the poems have told Kleon they are thrilled with what they have got from his efforts. “They say, ‘Omigod, I love them. I’m going to go home and try one right away,'” he says. “And I think as an artist that’s one of the coolest things you can hear. Isn’t that what it’s all about?”
The DIY factor does make blackout poems attractive as an interactive pastime. One can imagine taking up blackout poetry on their daily bus commute in place of sudoku or the crossword puzzle. Kleon says they are incredibly fun to do. “I come from a creative writing background in college and nothing takes the fun out of writing like taking a class on writing,” he says. “These are a joy to do.”
But not perhaps as easy to do as one might think. “My wife said to me, ‘You weren’t home the other night and I tried to do one and I couldn’t do it. I don’t know how you do one every day.’ I told her it’s a lot of sitting around and running your hand through your hair.”