WEEKLY

STEAL LIKE AN ARTIST
竊竊詩語

詩歌,蘊含半份顯露,半份隱藏。透過文字表露人的內心世界,反映社會的朦朧現況。然而在現今社會中,人們似乎總是對文字提不起興趣,對詩歌尤其抗拒,認為詩歌內容隱晦、難以理解,甚至把詩歌與「高不可攀」劃上等號。比起詩歌,大眾也許更傾向於直接抒發情感的散文。來自美國的作家Austin Kleon以新穎獨特的 ‘Blackout Poetry’ (塗黑詩)顛覆詩歌於大眾腦海內的刻板形象,憑一份報章和一枝marker,帶領讀者一同發掘文字中的瑰寶。

對任何一個作家而言,並不是每天睡醒睜開眼便思如泉湧的。再具天賦的作家也會有靈感閉塞的一刻,執起筆卻一個字也寫不出,呷口咖啡,看看窗外風景,回到座位,腦袋依然空空如也。2015年某天的Austin Kleon正是如此,對著空白的Microsoft文檔,卻沒有任何文字浮現眼前,縱使是作家,創作也沒有因多年的磨練而愈來愈得心應手。電腦桌旁靜靜躺在回收箱內的報章與桌前焦躁的他形成強烈對比:腦海猶如白紙,身旁卻有數以萬計的文字。此刻他想到,或許能從報章中「竊取」一些文字。隨手拾起一份《紐約時報》,拿起平常用作畫畫的Marker,抽取吸引眼球的文字,用線把文字連起來,再把報章多餘的篇幅盡數塗黑,他的第一首 Blackout poem 就這樣面世。後來,他繼續以此方式寫詩,並把作品上載至個人網站,Blackout poetry 因而引起熱議。

「世上沒有任何事是百分百原創的,所有創作都是由前人的作品演變而來的,每一個新點子都是受一至兩個前人的想法所啟發的。」作品被質疑非原創,甚至被指是抄襲,Kleon的回應饒有趣味。毫不猶疑承認自己是從報章中竊取文字,皆因創作與「竊取」本來就是密不可分。正如我們日常看到一篇好的文章,受啟發而寫出另一篇文章,那麼寫出的這篇文章有大部分是原創的,但必定有一部分是從看到的文章中「竊取」的。畢卡索亦曾說過:「傑出的藝術家會模仿,而偉大的藝術家會竊取。 」(Good artists copy, great artists steals.) Kleon認為「竊取」並不是什麼令人羞恥之事,「竊取」一些對自己有意義的文字或概念,為它們改頭換面,從而創作出一個全新獨特的作品,有何不可?創作與「竊取」,實際上就如孿生兒般緊密相連。

報章內的文字本來只是平鋪直敍地描述一些客觀事實,說不上有趣,甚至讓人覺得十分枯燥。Kleon卻利用這些缺乏朝氣的文字,為其注入活力,把它們變成有趣的詩。Blackout poem大多簡略易明,內容不受規範,可以是簡單有意境的一句詩句,或是撫慰心靈的雞湯,也可以是無厘頭的小幽默。只需一份本應被丟棄的報章和一枝Marker,就可創作出一首屬於自己的詩。這種獨特的寫作手法更受到《紐約時報》青睞,特意於電子報內增設一欄目,讓讀者創作並分享屬於自己的Blackout poem。平常點開Instagram、Facebook、Twitter等社交網站內的hashtag,大量讀者的創作隨即湧現眼前,與其說是創作,更像是一場與讀者之間的文字遊戲。後來,Kleon匯集多首作品,出版了一本屬於自己的 'Newspaper Blackout’,這種新式詩歌創作手法不再只活躍於社交平台,更被學校用作教材以提高學生寫作動力。

文字擁有神奇的魔力,不一定長篇大論,短短幾句,或是幾個字足以治癒心靈。可是於這個科技發展一日千里的世代,還有多少人願意放下手機,坐下來,拿起筆,在繁忙的生活中抽少許時間以文字重新認識自己、與人交流呢?也許Austin Kleon只是希望竊取大眾看一篇報章的時間,盼助本已對生活失去熱誠的都市人變成心目中獨一無二的藝術家。所以,無聊的時候,不妨拿起家中囤積已久的報章、雜誌,或是舊書藉,開啟一場文字遊戲,為枯燥乏味的文字注入活力,為營營役役的生活注入色彩。

撰文:許佩琳
美術:王曉澄

Poetry has been a form for people to express their inner self, and communicate with each other since ancient time. It’s a beautiful mean of expression which can be either secretive or forthright. Yet, people nowadays seem to be losing writing passion imperceptibly, and poetry has been regarded as a subtle art which is tedious and difficult to read. People even prefer reading prose to poetry. Austin Kleon, a writer and artist living in Austin, Texas, has introduced the unique and innovative ‘Blackout Poetry’ , which subverts the typical images of poetry, to the public. To discover the magic and beauty of words, all we need are just newspapers and a marker.

Sometimes it is tough finding creative ideas for our writings. Even some gifted writers may feel stagnated at some point along the way. To Austin Kleon, doing creative work doesn’t seem to be getting any easier despite the fact that he has been doing it for years. On a day in 2015, Kleon was suffering from ‘lack of ideas’ issue and it was definitely grueling when a writer could not write anything at all. Without any words in his empty mind, but right next to him there were thousands of words stacked up in the recycle bin. When he were looking at the newspapers in the recycle bin, an idea suddenly came to his mind. Perhaps he could steal some words from the newspaper! So he picked up the newspaper and took out a marker, then put boxes around the words that popped out at him. After that, he connected the words into some funny phases, and finally used the marker to blackout everything he doesn’t need. His first ‘Blackout poem’ was then done. Later, he kept creating 'Blackout poem’ and posted his works on social media. ‘Blackout Poetry’ then sparked off a diversity of responses in the community.

‘Nothing is completely original. All creative work builds on what came before. Every new idea is a remix or mash-up of one or two previous ideas.’ He responded to those who questioned the originality of his work like this. He admitted that he ‘steal’, and he steals the things really mean something to him. Nothing is really new in this world, and what makes things creative and special is how the old ideas are put together, mixed, and mashed. All the best products in the world are just reinvented and rediscovered in ways and contexts that were inserted into popular culture. There’s also a quote by Pablo Picasso, ‘Good artists copy, great artists steal.’ Kleon thinks that we don’t have to be shameful to steal. Stealing the things that are meaningful and useful indeed invigorates and motivates us.

The words in a newspaper article are usually humdrum as they are just objective news report without emotion. However, Kleon managed to rejuvenate these words, turning them into interesting poems. Blackout poetry is easy to understand, and there’s no particular format. We can do whatever we want on the newspapers. A Blackout poem can be a simple yet artistic sentence, or something that is inspiring, or even something that can make people laugh. With a newspaper and marker, we can all create our own poems. This practice has garnered a lot of attention, that even the New York Times has created a section of their digital newspaper where readers can create their own blackout poetry from New York Times articles. Blackout poetry has been popping up on different social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. It is just like a word game between Kleon and the readers. Kleon eventually gathered some of his works and published a book called ‘Newspaper Blackout’. Some schools even introduced blackout poetry to their students to encourage them to write.

Words are powerful and healing. Sometimes it is the best medicine for a suffocated person. While how many people in such a hustle and bustle city are willing to squeeze a little time, put down their phones, sit down and take a pen to write. Austin Kleon may simply just try to turn everybody into the most unique artist by stealing the five, or ten minutes that we spend on reading an article. Thus, when we feel bored, why don’t we just take out some old books, magazines or newspaper and start to make our own blackout poetry? Let us energize the tedious words in newspaper, and vitalize the busy and monotonous life.

Text: Natalie Hui
Art: Agnes Wong

ISSUE #237

STEAL LIKE AN ARTIST

 

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