Glancing over our slight topography,
your districts fertile and detached,
I am wasted and powerless
in your view.
I foster a river to the west,
to the north, a blessing.
A treaty founded on your body
to which I pray.
Source: Application of Missouri for Admission into the Union as a State (16th Congress, No. 475)
Method: My approach for both teaching and writing redactions/erasures is to start with a pencil, underline the first few words that strike me as usable, and then evolve it from there. If the narrative or vision changes along the way, I’ll erase some of my previously underlined words and underline new ones. Once I think it’s a poem, I write/type it out with line breaks, just to make sure, maybe make a few more minor changes/edits, then do a final redaction in sharpie or with the black highlighting function. It’s one of my favorite activities to do in poetry workshops with teens, and I even start my college students off with a unit on found poetry.
Rosemarie Dombrowski is the founder of rinky dink press, the co-founder of the Phoenix Poetry Series, and the inaugural Poet Laureate of Phoenix, AZ. She is the recipient of five Pushcart nominations, a 2017 Arts Hero Award, the 2017 Carrie McCray Memorial Literary Award in Nonfiction, and a fellowship from the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics for her Phoenix Community Poetry Gardens project. Her collections include The Book of Emergencies (2014, Five Oaks Press), The Philosophy of Unclean Things (Finishing Line Press, 2017) and the The Cleavage Planes of Southwest Minerals [A Love Story], winner of the 2017 Split Rock Review chapbook competition.