Blackout Poetry

Let’s have some fun!

I want to show you how to write an interesting poem in just a few minutes using ‘The Blackout Method’.

You don’t need to be a poet or an artist or even consider yourself remotely creative – the method will do it all for you!

Why show you this? Because it’s super easy to do and surprisingly entertaining. This exercise is a great reminder that engagement and satisfaction don’t have to exclusively come from big things like a career change or falling in love – but can also come from little moments of flow we can access whenever we like.

Get started with this video below (< 2 minutes)

Need more help?

From the Austin Kleon, author of ‘Newspaper Blackout’:

“What you’re doing when you’re making a blackout poem, in the words of Allen Ginsberg, is ‘Shopping for images.’ You want to begin by looking for a word, or a combination of words, that forms an image in your head. (Tip: the best images are usually made up of nouns and verbs.) You want an anchor – a place to start. If you identify this anchor, it’s easy to branch out from there.

Once you identify your anchor, you want to move around the page and find words and phrases you can link to that anchor. Try not to have a preconceived notion of where you want to go. Let the method take you for a ride.

Also: remember that Westerners read left to right, top to bottom. Poems read best and they’re easier to make if you follow this rule. For example, if you’re looking for a word or phrase before your anchor, it would be above or to the left. If you’re looking for a word after your anchor, it should be below or to the right.”

Also, don’t read the article beforehand! You don’t want to get swept up in the story and let it color your impressions of the words. Just scan for the words that jump out at you. (In this way, you’ll find your poetry will be a kind of verbal Rorschach Test, letting you see images your mind is drawn to in the words.)

That’s it! Don’t overthink it. Enjoy!


If you’re interested in learning about finding pleasure and lasting satisfaction in activities that bring about a state of “flow”, check out this video below to see famed Positive Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s TED Talk on the subject.


And just for fun, here are a few of my own blackout poems!

Derek Orth

ICF Professional Life Coach