Be a Blackout Poet

Anyone can be a poet (even if they don’t know it). Set your inner poet free with this alternative style of poetry.


  • Ask members to find old newspapers and magazines at home or photocopy pages from books.
  • Everyone will also need coloured pens or pencils

What’s a Blackout Poem?

  1. The person leading the activity should show everyone the blackout poetry examples which can be downloaded and printed out from the resources section below. These could be emailed out in advance or displayed on screen. Has anyone seen this type of poetry before?
  2. The person leading the activity should explain that blackout poems are made using pages from books, newspapers, or magazines. Blackout poets pick out single words or phrases from the existing text, then piece them together to make something new. This kind of poetry embraces randomness, and also gives people a chance to mix poetry and visual art.

How to become a Blackout Poet

  1. Everyone should get into a space with a pencil and a page of text.
  2. Everyone should scan the page looking for a ‘theme word’ to inspire possible topics for their poem. People can choose any word for their theme word – it’s about choosing something that stands out to them. Words may stand out because they have meaning or significance, for example, because they link to a personal value, a favourite feeling, or a special event. The meaningful theme word decides the topic of the whole poem.
  1. Everyone should read the page more carefully. They should lightly circle any words that connect to their theme word or resonate with them – it’s also OK to circle words just because they sound nice! The person leading the activity should remind everyone that this is all about self-expression. There aren’t any right or wrong answers here. Don’t circle more than three words in a row. If possible, pick words that work on their own.
  1. Everyone should piece together the circled words in the same order that the appear on the page (so, in English, top to bottom and left to right). They should aim for about eight lines of poem – it’s up to them where a line stops and a new one starts.
  2. Everyone should go back through their poem – do they want to remove any words? Are there any spaces where they need to add something? Everyone should experiment with a few different possibilities. If things aren’t working out, it’s OK to go back and repeat step three to find some more words.
  3. Once everyone’s settled on a final poem, they should erase any circles around words they’re not using.
  4. Everyone should circle the words they are using more obviously – they could use a pen or highlighter.
  5. Everyone should share their poem with the group (maybe by reading it out or displaying on screen, or photographing and sharing by what’s app group). They could chat about what it means and how they pulled words together.


Age Range:                     Scouts

Time to Complete:         30 mins

Badge Requirements:   Scout Writer badge




Be a Blackout Poet – Example 1

Be a Blackout Poet – Example 2

Put your phone down and what are you left with? Just teamwork, courage and the skills to succeed.’
Bear Grylls, Chief Scout Bear Grylls