How to ███████ Blackout ████

1. Choose...anything. All that matters is...your manipulate

How to ███████ Blackout ████
Photo by Ricardo IV Tamayo / Unsplash

by Corey Miller

Blackout poetry can be a great way to open up new creative writing pathways, work through writer’s block, or begin an original poetry collection. Here are some simple steps you can follow to create your own blackout poems:

1. Choose your source material.

Your source material can be anything: a non-fiction book, a magazine article, a copy of yesterday’s copy of the New York Times, or even your middle school yearbook. All that matters is that your source material has plenty of text to redact and manipulate.

2. Examine the page.

Look at the text. See if there are any words or phrases that jump out at you. It might be helpful to identify one or two anchor words—that is, words that seem particularly striking or meaningful for you to build your blackout poetry project around. Create a box around your anchor words to separate them from the rest of the text.

3. Identify connecting words.

Once you have your anchor words, identify some other words that relate to the theme or idea of your anchors. It may also be helpful to select some connecting words, like conjunctions or prepositions, to unify your thoughts. Box those words as well.

4. Black out the rest.

Now it’s time to make your mark. Use a Sharpie or black pen to black out all the words that aren’t your anchors or connectors. You can use straight lines, wavy lines, or thin connection lines. If you see your poetry as more of a visual arts piece, feel free to use your redaction pen to color in shapes or designs. You’re well on your way to creating your very own poetry journal of blackout poems.

Corey Miller’s writing has appeared in Booth, Pithead Chapel, Atticus Review, Hobart, X-R-A-Y, and elsewhere. He has been awarded the 2023 Literary Cleveland Breakthrough Residency and was a Kenyon Review Writers Workshop ‘23 attendee. He reads for TriQuarterly. When Corey isn’t brewing beer for a living in Cleveland, he enjoys taking the dogs for adventures. Follow him on Instagram: @IronBrewed Twitter: @IronBrewer or at