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Up-cycling Reality for the Sake of Mental Health

Lately, very lately, I have taken to creating blackout poems. I was first introduced to this concept in a university Creative Writing course I took a few years back. Then I was reminded of it by reading Austin Kleon's Steal Like an Artist (which, for all I know, is where my instructor encountered it in the first place ... who knows, stranger things have happened).

For years I've been writing a poem a day based on five to six random words. I'm such a weirdo I find this sort of thing fun. But, in doing the blackout poetry I am discovering something else - a way to process the news (aka reality) which borders on the therapeutic.

I normally get something out of writing a poem - obviously - if that weren't the case I wouldn't do it. But what I normally get is something akin to a purge. Taking a news article and covering things up in order to uncover a way to make it about something else, is completely different somehow. Rather than purging something, it's more like finding a new way to see something. Taking reality, and up-cycling it into the zip code of art (in the expressive sense of the word, not the judgey good/bad sense). Kinda like a way of saying yes, this article I just read might be about what passes for leadership rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, but I can still try to make something pretty from it.

Anyway, I'm really enjoying this at the moment, and I think it's helping with stress, so I'm gonna keep going.

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