Black Out Poetry

This activity is inspired by censoring or redacting texts to make beautiful works of art that unearth new meanings and understanding.

This is a strategy to discover new ideas within an existing text by choosing specific words and isolating them, while masking others.

The story or text's original meaning can change entirely, and new meaning and understandings are unearthed.

Think of the source text like a block of marble, and you're the sculptor. You'll chip away, your black marker as a chisel, at the words to reveal a beautiful poem inside!

The remaining words create a final, poetic work of art that is unique.

What do you notice?

View the Blackout poems above and discuss what you notice. What do you like? What are the poems about? What types of words are selected? What is effective? What strategies do you think the authors took to make the poetry?

Making Black Out Poetry

  • Select a page, any random page, from your reading project book. Or, go online and find something else that your author had written. You want to use your author/book as the source material for this one.
  • Take a screenshot or use doc scan to get your page into the camera roll. Open in Notability!
  • There is no specific way for choosing the words you want to keep!
  • Look for words and phrases that are interesting to you, that you like. Don't think too much about what you want the poem to be about and force a poem - let the existing words direct you. Take your time!
  • Once you’ve chosen a page of text, read the passage and choose words you like along the way. Start by looking in the first paragraph (or first few lines) of the page, find some words that jump out to you and circle them. See if any phrases stick out to you and circle them. Continue down the page, rereading your work to see if the whole sentence makes sense. The editing process is the best part, as you never know what you'll get!
  • Once you’ve realized that you got your poem, you may begin blacking out the page You can blackout the page using any style you want (see the examples for more ideas)
  • Using the black marker tool begin circle and redact words!
  • Make sure you add the source at the bottom of the page, ex: From John Green's, "Paper Towns"
  • When you're finished, please take a screenshot to save to the camera roll, and crop so you just have your poem.


  • Circle words
  • Box words
  • Make interesting shapes around words (e.g., blobs)
  • Create "rivers" by making white lines that connect words
  • Isolate punctuation (e.g., exclamation points, periods)  
  • Isolate sentences and/or phrases (not just individual words
  • If you're having trouble, look for archetypes and/or ideas relating to fate/free will

Share your work!

You will share your work on the tackk page, and by submitting it through Google Classroom where I will assess your work.

Black Out Poetry Rubric

Comment Below:

What is your experience with Black Out Poetry? If you're a teacher, how have you modified this activity and what recommendations do you have? If you're a student, comment on your experience of writing; what helps you? What advice do you have for other students? Most importantly: is this poetry?