Saturday, July 31, 2010

Newspaper + Marker = Poetry.

Often when I am feeling down, sad, angry, or just plain empty, I make a trip to a book store in my area. Typically, it is a Borders or a WonderBook (however, I can't spend too long in a Wonderbook without my allergies impending misery upon me). A few months back during my hectic and sleepless week of finals, instead of visiting one of the two sanctuaries mentioned above, I decided to visit Barnes & Noble. I usually do not openly come to this high traffic zone due to it being connected to the mall here.

Browsing the poetry section (my favorite) and glancing through all the usuals (Blake, Yeats, Sexton, Plath), my eyes do a double-take at "Newspaper Blackout" by Austin Kleon. The spine of this avaerage sized paperback is very grunge--black magic marker heavily scribbled around two little blocks of courier font that reveal the title and author of the book.

I struggle to pull it out between the other paperback poetry books in the section that are tightly wedged together. I turn it over and the front cover is about the same: newspaper as the background and black magic marker violently covering it with the same two block of text. Beneath the title and cover is a quote from the NPR's Morning Edition: "Instead of starting with a blank page, poet Austin Kleon grabs The New York Times and a permanent marker and eliminates the words he doesn't need."

Immediately I am intrigued. I flip through it and see that his work looks like this:

I rush to the check out counter, purchase it, and make a run for my car (it's raining and starting to storm). Not wanting to wait until I come home (and I love a good thunderstorm), I grab the book out of the shopping bag (throwing the bag into the back seat), recline my driver's seat and start reading.

This was my favorite part. Something about reading poetry while listening to the rain falling on the roof of my car, the lightning flickering across every turned page, the deep rumble in the background. Simple moments like these I will never forget. I forgot about exams, studying, the physics of space and time that I needed to know for an upcoming final, and got lost between the blocks of permanent marker poems.

I've started doing poetry like this when I want to do something different. Try it. I suggest the Arts section of your newspaper. Pick the words that call out to you. You'll be surprised at what you find.