I tend to make these poems spontaneously, and find meaning after the fact. To me, this is about imagination, which is absolutely a space beneath sight.
To me, blackout poetry represents an opportunity to make mischief out of boring things like financial columns and interviews with Arnold Schwarzenegger. You excise the dull parts with swaths of ink or paint. It’s like …
What I like about blackout poetry is that it’s sort of an inverted version of pinhole cipher, where a hidden message is concealed in printed matter by pinholes under the words of the real message. I used to make pinhole ciphers on discarded newspapers in cafeterias and coffee shops, just in case someone noticed.
If I had nine lives, I’d use one of them to be a spy who retires and opens a coffee shop. Preferably, the spy part would be in the early half of the twentieth century, before analogue cryptography was completely outmoded.
With blackout poetry, I can just sort of pretend that someone sent me a secret message and pick out whatever words or syllables interest me.
I didn’t have any particular plan when I did this one, but it’s clear to me that this poem explains how I deal with a lot of social niceties, particularly being asked how I’m doing when I’m not doing well, but I don’t want to say so. Smile, smile, find some sort of lie, and try not to sigh depressively.
Not that I would put on such a charade at my spy coffee shop. I like to think I foster an atmosphere of erudite grumpiness.