Fun With Erasure Poetry

If you’ve never made an erasure poem, you’re missing out on some addictive fun. More fun than crosswords, Bananagrams or Scrabble for those of us with the compulsion to tinker, shuffle and rearrange words just for the hell of it. An erasure poem can be created from any block of text; a paragraph from a newspaper article, a letter, page of an existing text, another person’s poem, your own poem! Unlike found poetry or list poetry, erasures are created by crossing out the words you don’t want and leaving the ones you do, thus writing a poem through the process of elimination. Some well-known book length examples are ‘A Humument’ by Tom Phillips which was just on exhibition at MassMOCA, literally every page of the text framed and hung. Then there’s my favorite, Mary Ruefle’s ‘A Little White Shadow’ and Jen Bervin’s “Nets”, erasures of Shakespeare’s sonnets. The ways in which the unwanted text is ‘erased’ and the remaining text highlighted can become quite artistic, with the resulting work bordering on book as art object. You can go that route with your own erasures, or head over to Wave Books and make a few erasures with the passages of texts they’ve uploaded. Once you choose a text, just click the words you don’t want, they’ll disappear. What remains is your poem. You can title and save it under your own name, or a pseudonym (chicken!). All the saved poems are archived, so you can read what others have done. Also, check out the deletionist . I just came across it but haven’t had too much time to explore. In short, you can download a Javascript bookmarklet that allows you to turn any web page into an erasure. Too cool! A great little writing exercise for those days when you can’t get down to business otherwise.

ImageMassMOCA exhibition

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