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Literary Collage - I’m a poet and I didn’t have to try too hard!


This morning I gave myself permission to go down an artistic rabbit hole. As our movements are restricted at the moment a virtual excursion is all I can stretch to, but I know I’ve had a good time when a creative buzz has me leaping for the glue stick and scissors while I’m still in my PJs. I love messing with paper, making books and after taking a short bookbinding course last year I have a wealth of paraphernalia. However all I needed this morning was a dusty old, and very boring book destined for collage, glue and scissors.



It began with my news letter from the Travelling Bookbinder - Rachel Hazell who always has something wholesome to share. Check out her website and instagram if you love quirky book making https://www.thetravellingbookbinder.com


This morning it was a simple folded book which transformed a old page into the cutest little notelet. Rachel then guided me through blacking out text to leave words of meaning or feeling to reveal a poem.



You know when your brain is tickled by something that you know you've come across before? I remembered reading about random poetry and I pulled the name Burroughs from the archives of my memory. So off I went down the google rabbit hole and found a fabulous article all about the history of Blackout Poetry https://medium.com/offbeat-poetry/the-history-of-blackout-poetry-ca8985f04c35


The origins of recreating poetry from text dates back to the 18th century and during Dadaism in WWII progressed to an art form with words cut from a newspaper and randomly pieced back together to form a poem. Known as the cut-up method, enter William Burroughs and Brion Gysin who developed this approach further, with considerable success, publishing numerous essays, books and producing acclaimed art pieces.





In 1966 artist Tom Phillips, set himself the task of transforming a cheap bookshop find through collage, paint and alteration. And so he created the book- A Humument. Throughout he selected words within bubble shapes and created a “found” text with a different meaning from the author’s original. With time this led onto what we now recognise as Found Poetry -

“a type of poetry created by taking words, phrases, and sometimes whole passages from other sources and reframing them as poetry (essentially a literary collage). By making changes in spacing, lines, and lines, adding or deleting text, the final found poetry work bears an entirely new meaning; not related to nor plagiarising the original text” https://www.offbeatpoet.com/post/poetry-glossary-definitions




More recently artist Austin Kleon of Steal like an artist fame (fun read), has popularised redacted poetry in Newspaper Blackout https://newspaperblackout.com/ It’s so clever and humorous yet beautifully simple.

Here’s my one of my masterpieces. At some point I think I'll introduce found poems into my paintings as part of their history, either as collage or drawings. I need to mull it over a little more, but I have found there to be something quite wonderful and thought provoking in these poems, despite their random and accidental nature. My head says ‘it’s just words thrown together’ but my heart has been won over by their quirky creation.


I love the idea of this art form as literary collage and although my family have yet to appreciate my Dadaist poetry, I remain undeterred 😄


Let me know if you have a go, I’d love to see what you come up with. Or maybe you have your own way of creating poetry? Either way I hope you have fun with your old book, scissors and glue stick.


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