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Blackout poetry – an interview

I saw some images that made me look again. A merger of different forms of art, the words leapt out from colour and texture, an aesthetic delight, a thought provoked. A page of text is reduced to a few words, the meaning altered. It's simple to do, yet requires thought and insight. A new way of looking at the page in front of you. It's blackout poetry. I chat to John Carroll, from Make Black Out Poetry.

Are you a poet or artist?

I’ve never really considered myself either. I’m a writer first and foremost, mainly Flash Fiction. I’ve dabbled in poetry here and there and had never attempted creating any kind of art before I started making blackout poetry. makeblackout3

Is it really poetry?

I think so. It might not be in the academic sense, but then again Charles Bukowski wrote poems about alcohol, gambling and one night stands. Art and poetry are more about expressing yourself in an honest way than following a sentence structure or going to art school. Life is art. Life is poetic. Sometimes you just have to adjust your perception to see the beauty that’s been right in front of you all along.

Where do you find inspiration?

 I find inspiration in everyday life. Life in its very nature is art. We’re all creations. Our lives are stories that we tell everyday with every action we make and every word we say. Like the blackout poetry I make, I try to view life from different angles. makeblackout2

Do you seek it?

I seek truth. You’ll never run out of inspiration when you seek truth. It comes in all shapes and forms and is presented to us constantly. You might have to weed through a lot of preconceived ideas to find it, but it’s there. I believe in some universal truths, but we all have to find our own truth.

Do you use texts you like or just see words in any random passage?

I’m typically not very familiar with the text that I use when making blackout poetry. Most of the books are random. I’ve been using a few books over the last couple of months that I found in a bag on the side of the road waiting to be sent to the landfill.

What could I read into you and your mindset and life from your work?

Blackout poetry is very subconscious for me. I can usually get a decent gauge on my thoughts and view on life while making blackout poetry. When I was struggling with finding purpose and hope in life, most of the blackout poems were very dark. But life is dark and I was being honest about how I felt. I have much different perception of life now, so most of the blackout poems I make now are centered around truth, hope, balance and love, because those are things that I think about most. It came to me more so during the troubled period. I tried to stay busy, so I wouldn’t think about the pain in my life which ultimately just prolonged the pain. Blackout poetry helped me focus and process the grief in a way that was enjoyable and manageable. It helped me tap into how I really felt and It eventually lead me to face myself head on and come to a resolution.


I've heard it called 'creative destruction.' Do you see yourself leaning towards one or the other (a creator or destroyer)?

Life is a cycle. All things that are born, eventually die. I feel like there’s a balance between creating and destroying in most art, but especially blackout poetry. Evolution could be another way to look at it. Changing the the current state of an object, in this case, a page of text, to become something else. A photosynthesis of sorts.