My friend Illy passed on to me a link to the blackout poems of Austin Kleon. Here’s the one that most caught my eye:


The craziest thing is that I actually had this idea before. I tried to do it with stories about China, and I failed miserably. I’m not sure whether it was the material I had to work with or my own lack of creativity at fault. Cool to see that Austin has more than pulled it off…


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. It’s definitely a form I’ve never tried with poetry. The poem you posted here is terrific… and I’m checking out the link now. Hope it provides some inspiration.

  2. Yes! That is art.

  3. very cool!

  4. John, you might want to take a look at Tom Phillips’ “A Humument” which is the classic of this genre and a very beautiful piece of art:

    Here is a full online presentation of the first, 1970 edition:

    Tom Phillips: A Humument. A treated Victorian novel

  5. It just rings a bell, although America isn’t exactly where i’m from…had to put a link 🙂

  6. greg Pasden Says: May 12, 2008 at 5:35 am

    Write your own poem and make it work. then you can make it fit your own ideas. take care

  7. i totally don’t understand it !hehe. i lack artistic cell. hehe

  8. Sophie, that’s the point(s) of art – art is subjective to taste.

  9. That is pretty crazy that you’d had this idea before. 😉

    I’d never seen this form of poetry before; it’s sort of akin to remix work I guess. Taking a pre-existing structure and manipulating it into something new. Honestly, I enjoy doing similiar things with drawings or whatever. In a way it can be easier then actually coming up with something 100% out of the ether. But I guess everyone’s creative process works differently.

    One of my favorite tricks when attempting to write something is to find a random word, and see where it takes me.

    Cool post for sure. Now I have some stuff to look at while “working”. 😉

  10. No idea what “台巴子” means, but I’m just guessing it is not complimentary.

    Is 巴子a common suffix? Any other good examples of how xx巴子 is used?

    Is it a term used for Taiwanese people generally? Or for Taiwanese business people based in China?

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