The Trails of Poetry

With his newspaper blackout poems Texas writer Austin Kleon constantly walks the thin line between literature and visual arts, and in his recent creations this distinction becomes even vaguer.

Kleon creates new meaning from existing newspaper articles by blacking out most of the content, and leaving only a few keywords which can be read as a new and original message.  In Kleon’s case this new message often has a Koan-like, poetic feel to it.

In his latest poem Kleon introduces traditional comics graphemes, such as gutters and trails to guide the reader’s eye through his poem.  Even though he explains this as some sort of deus ex machina to overcome the limitations of western left-to-right reading conventions, these in fact generate a new dynamic in terms of time and space, and, in my opinion, render the result all the more interesting.  The rather scrawly blackouts only strengthen this impression, by adding texture and depth to the overall picture.

(newspaper poem © Austin Kleon 2008)

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