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Writing Erasure Poems

Hey fellow writers!

Welcome to another edition of IABX Wednesday Writing Tip!

Today, we're delving into the world of erasure poems. If you're seeking a creative challenge, this might be just the thing for you.

What is an Erasure Poem?

An erasure poem involves taking an existing text, such as a historical document, a famous speech, or even a literary masterpiece, and selectively removing words until a poem emerges from what remains.

How to Create an Erasure Poem

1. Choose Your Source Text: Select a text that speaks to you. It could be anything from the U.S. Declaration of Independence to a Shakespearean play.

2. Remove Words: Start removing words from the text until you've distilled it down to its poetic essence. You can remove words selectively or systematically, depending on your preference.

3. Craft Your Poem: Once you've removed the excess words, you're left with the core of your poem. You can structure these words into poetic lines or leave them in their original arrangement, depending on the effect you want to achieve.

Examples of Erasure Poems

Example 1:

  • Original Text:

“The stars above shine bright tonight,

Guiding us through the dark.”

  • Erasure Poem:

“Above bright tonight,

Guiding through the dark.”

Example 2:

  • Original Text:

“The flowers bloomed in the garden,

Their vibrant colors dancing in the breeze.”

  • Erasure Poem:

“Flowers bloomed in the garden,

Vibrant colors dancing.”

Other Examples of Popular Erasure Poems:

  • "The Waste Land" by T.S. Eliot (Erased by Jen Bervin): Bervin’s erasure invites readers to witness a condensed yet powerful version of Eliot’s seminal work, emphasizing its timeless themes.

  • "The Black Riders" by Stephen Crane (Erased by Jen Bervin): Bervin’s erasure of Crane’s poetry explores themes of war and mortality, highlighting the resonance of Crane’s words in a modern context.

  • "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen (Erased by Teju Cole): Cole’s erasure breathes new life into Austen’s classic, offering a fresh perspective on themes of love, society, and class.

Why Erasure Poems?

Erasure poetry offers a unique way to engage with existing texts, allowing you to uncover hidden meanings and create something entirely new from familiar words. It's a creative exercise that challenges you to think critically about language and expression.

Ready to give erasure poetry a try? Choose a source text, grab a pen, and start erasing! You never know what poetic gems you might uncover.

Happy Writing!



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