Austin Kleon

Austin Kleon is “a writer who draws” and creates poems by redacting text from newspaper articles. I first saw his prints through 20×200, and he has a book that was released yesterday. It’s hard to look past his work as a response to the proliferation of conspiracy theories, but can you imagine how he constructs these things? This question calls to mind Tristan Tzara more than any truth commission. Tristian Tzara was a Dadaist poet with a novel approach to making poetry: cut up magazine articles and shake them around in a bag. Of course, these poems made no sense because Tzara didn’t want them to; they were just fragments of text randomly drawn out of a bag. But Kleon isn’t a Dadaist and he meticulously draws meaning out of existing newspaper articles on purpose. Sometimes Kleon’s poems appear effortless, but other poems demonstrate his working within the parameters of existing text. The above poem Time-Traveling has an unexpected ending that causes this kind of slippage in the reader’s mind (which is to say I can’t decide for sure if he built the poem around the ending or if the ending was a happy accident.) But the ending can’t be an accident because accidents don’t happen. At least not according to conspiracy theorists.

People who are convinced that Steve Jobs is taking over the world will be amused to learn that Austin Kleon went to walk his dog on April 3rd and came home with an iPad. He even demonstrates how to use the iPad and make a blackout poem. But who takes their dog for a walk to Best Buy?

7 Comments Austin Kleon

  1. johnkanesmith April 14, 2010 at 9:41 AM

    Nice post! Good stuff…

  2. Bryce April 14, 2010 at 10:28 AM

    if you’re interested in this sort of poetry you should try to find copies of A Humament by Tom Phillips. he’s altered a number of texts in a similar (but, i think, more interesting) way to create new narratives and poems from pre-existing books. His stories follow a character, Toge, who only appears when the original text contains the words ‘together’ or ‘altogether.’

  3. Chipotle April 14, 2010 at 4:36 PM

    Yeah, I saw this idea way back but I can’t remember where or when it was. Idea: Austin Kleon should rap folowwing this criteria

  4. Pingback: › Book Notes - Austin Kleon (”Newspaper Blackout”)

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  6. secretmantra May 17, 2010 at 10:39 AM

    The comment about Tristan Tzara reminds me of a description David Bowie once gave for his song-writing process.

    Chaos-infusing process filters FTW.

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