Experimental Poetry 4


5/17/19


two blackout poems

In this experimental poetry article, I show how to make a "blackout" poem, as well as a "colorout" variation which uses more colors. This poem was created from Dylan Thomas' "Do not go gentle into that good night". Click here to read that poem. And you can click here (affiliate link) to check out a book by Thomas.

A blackout poem is a type of found poem, where you literally black out words, leaving words behind to form a new poem from the original poem. I think the blackout poems look really striking/cool. There are other ways to make a found poem, such as randomly sampling with (like in my Found Poetry) or without replacement, erasing words, drawing lines, using any text or source (ie. not just other poems), and many other ways.

What I did here, was to paste a source poem into Excel. Then I used the Text to Column feature to put the words into individual cells. Next, I wrote a Visual Basic macro to randomly choose if each cell will be made black or not. I can set this probability in the macro. For example, we can randomly turn 10% of cells black, 20%, 85%, or any percent you'd like. I typically set a small-ish percentage and then ran the macro multiple times if I wanted a larger percentage of cells blacked out.

However, while blackout poems are somewhat common, what if we use other colors? I wrote a similar macro, but instead I randomly changed cells to RGB(a, b, c), where a, b, and c are randomly chosen between 0 and 255. If you are not familiar with it, RGB stands for red, green, and blue, and is a model for colors of pixels. Here is an example of the same source poem using more colors. I also played with varying if the cell color could be white or not, as well as the percentage of cells to color. I also played with using a solid non-black color for the blackout, like coloring cells green ("greenout"), for example.


two colorout poems

I hope this gave you some ideas for your poetry. Please check out the spreadsheet here, and credit Statisticool.com if you find it useful.

Here are these poems without any coloring. There is obviously some selecting in choosing the breaks and lines when moving from the grid format to plain text

Found Poetry 68
go close
words had caught
the light
the sun
the good

Found Poetry 69
they not gentle
their might danced against the wild
caught the flight too late
blinding sight
eyes against me

Found Poetry 70
should rage against the light
dark is rage, wild
the curse, night

Found Poetry 71
rave gentle
not rage


Also, check out Found Poetry 14, Found Poetry 15, Found Poetry 16, and Found Poetry 17 to read more found poems based on Thomas' "Do not go gentle into that good night".


Thanks for reading.


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