I just recently finished reading Vicious by V. E. Schwab, and one of the main characters in that book had a habit for blacking out book pages to create new strings of words. This is an idea that has become very popular in today’s culture, being called either ‘Found Poetry’ or ‘Blackout Poetry’, but it got me wondering; do I like blackout poetry?
Or do I hate it?
The way I see it, you could make an argument for either end of the stick here. Before I decide which end I land on, let me give you some reasons why I can understand each end of this stick, and then you can give me your end, too.
The Beauty of Found Poetry
● It’s so intriguing and fun to look at, read, and make. The act of taking a piece of writing that you love and pulling a new twist, meaning, or prose out of it; or taking a piece of writing you don’t love so much and making into something that you do love.
● Wether a simple blackout or an elaborate and artful design is used to hide the words you don’t want to use, it becomes a work of art, and is for some reason one of my favorite things to look at. The pretty drawings always amaze me with their creativity. The blackouts look like windows into a different world, a different hour, another person’s thoughts.
● It is the art of looking past the surface of something and seeing something that is all your own. Taking something that once wasn’t yours and making yours. The fact that it doesn’t matter what you had to start out with; you can turn it into something that it never would have been otherwise.
Overall, found poetry is very aesthetically pleasing. And for me, things that are aesthetic are pleasing to my soul.
The Horror of Found Poetry
● It’s destroying someone else’s book.
All the time they put into it, all the love and care. And I know, you might be thinking that authors have thousands of books printed these days, so it’s not like one book is going to ruin their writing career or something.
But what about the old books? The ones that don’t have any sibling copies anymore? The ones that are the last remaining pieces of their author’s soul from decades or even centuries ago? When those words are blacked out, are we not destroying that person’s final words, final thoughts, and therefore their final hold on this world?
It bothers me. I can’t help it. But this leaves me in such a pickle. Do I have a solution? A way to please both of my contradicting views to this prose?
My “Middle Ground”
● If it’s a new book, buy two. There are tons of matching books printed these days. They way I feel, if I buy two, I can have one to read, enjoy, and preserve. Then the second one I can use to blackout. Does this make any sense?! I don’t know, but it makes me feel better. This way I can still do blackout poetry without feeling like I’m completely wiping a person’s work off the face of the earth. But this only applies to books that I can buy new and get two copies of. Otherwise, it’s a no go.
● For old books, vintage books, rare books, historical books, and books I get second hand ( even if I can get two of them ): NO. I can’t do it. But what if I really like the wording? What then? Well, type it up, of course. I can get a nice looking font, print it on quality paper, make it look just like a book page, and then do my blackout on it. This way I can still use their words for blackout without forever destroying them.
And very, very rarely:
● If it’s a book someone has a personal vendetta against for some reason ( like Victor in Vicious ), then go for it. But honestly, I think this a mostly fictional idea ( which I happened to love while reading Vicious; it fit very well with the story ). But I don’t really think people have vendettas against books all that often in the real world ( which is too bad because it makes for a good story XD ).
So there it is folks! My thoughts on blackout poetry. I truly think it’s a great way to further express ourselves in a creative way; I just think there are ways we can do it without destroying someone else’s creativity.
What do you think of Found Poetry? Is it something you do or wish to do? Do you agree with any of my thoughts? Or, more likely, think I’m a very contrary person? XD ( P.S. you can read my review of Vicious here. )
( P.P.S That’s right, a whole post on found poetry and not a single picture of it. Don’t you love how much sense I make? I do. I think. Who knows. )