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John Tranter, Blackout

Blackout consists of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the article “Some Dreamers of the Golden Dream” by Joan Didion, and a chapter from The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe, with most of the words removed, and the remaining words and phrases interleaved, though in the same order as they appear in the original texts. No other words have been added.

“In Blackout, Tranter continues the witty experiments with found materials he began in Different Hands, this time slicing Shakespeare, Joan Didion and Tom Wolfe according to a method in which most of the words are removed (“blacked out”) while nothing is added and, in what remains, the original order must be preserved. This method of recomposition sounds easy but it is hard to be derivative and inventive at the same time. Tranter uses his prefabricated materials and his abundant talents with great style and the result is a poem that reads and sounds like Tranter in a pleasurably uncanny way:

waitresses looking like milky cellophane,

their garments cooling in this sad nook, where once
midnight hid; all asleep; and the trumpets
always dropping off the note.
Is there more moody liberty? […]”

—  Kate Lilley in the Sydney Morning Herald

John Tranter has published more than twenty collections of verse. His collection Urban Myths: 210 Poems: New and Selected (University of Queensland Press, and Salt Publishing, Cambridge UK) won the Victorian state award for poetry in 2006, the New South Wales state award for poetry in 2007, the South Australian state award for poetry in 2008, and the 2008 South Australian Premier’s Prize for the best book overall (fiction, non-fiction, poetry and others for the years 2006 and 2007). His latest book is Starlight: 150 Poems (UQP, 2010). He is the founding editor of the free Internet magazine Jacket (jacketmagazine.com), the founder of the APRIL project (april.edu.au) and he has a homepage at johntranter.com.

2000. 24pp.

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