who is at the door
Source: Jose, Randall T., Ed. Understanding Low Vision. American Foundation for the Blind, 1983, p. 216
Method: This erasure poem come from a project called UN VISION, in which I, a legally blind individual, erase pages from a low-vision instructor’s textbook to find my childhood history between the lines. The title was cut-up from words within the source page.
Jill Khoury is interested in the intersection of poetry, visual art, gender, and disability. She holds an MFA from The Ohio State University and edits Rogue Agent, a journal of embodied poetry and art. She has written two chapbooks—Borrowed Bodies (Pudding House, 2009) and Chance Operations (Paper Nautilus, 2016). Her debut full-length collection, Suites for the Modern Dancer, was released in 2016 from Sundress Publications. Find her at jillkhoury.com.
IT’S A CRIME
Source & Method: These were originally lyrics from Roc Marciano’s opening song “It’s a Crime” off of his debut album, 2010’s Marcberg. The lyricism is packed with bravado gangster rap and I’ve attempted to turn it into a magical and surreal circus.
Benjamin Niespodziany is a night librarian at the University of Chicago. He runs the multimedia art blog [neonpajamas] and has had work published in Ghost City Press, Pithead Chapel (forthcoming), formercactus, Occulum, and a small batch of others.
As if a mind / folded in thought / created forms—
(a round of return)
(a hold against chaos)
from which: world—
blindly making / only beauty.
Source: Robert Duncan’s Often I Am Permitted to Return to a Meadow & Poetry, A Natural Thing
Method: I often think my erasures might better be called pluckings. I go through a text and “pluck” words and phrases that call to me. I look for energy, vividness, peculiarity. I might go back, pluck more, for sense, or because the developing poem wants more, sees more, begins to understand itself. I hone. My rule: keep everything in the exact order and the exact form (verb form, pronoun gender, etc.) that the source text dictates; no rearranging; no cheating.
Shirley Glubka is a retired psychotherapist, the author of three poetry collections and two novels. Her most recent book: The Bright Logic of Wilma Schuh: a novel (Blade of Grass Press, 2017). Shirley lives in Prospect, Maine with her spouse, Virginia Holmes. Website: http://shirleyglubka.weebly.com/
This latest hand
had a spear to the back
Left Ryan dead
Left by a path into the night
with the wind
and scrambling to get safe
There was no way back
for his legs
Source: Football match report in the sports section of the Brighthouse Echo Newspaper, Page 63, February 27th, 2014.
Method: Erasure (including title)
Winston Plowes lives aboard his floating home in Calderdale which doubles as a home for lost and wayward words. He is a teacher of creative writing at primary schools and universities. His collection of surrealist found poetry, Telephones, Love Hearts, & Jellyfish, Electric Press, was published in 2016. www.winstonplowes.co.uk
Fire is a living being. You can kill it.
Fire is wild, a devouring beast,
insatiable, like hell, or avarice.
It licks, snatches, filches. It plays.
Fire flies up like a red cock – glitters
with seeds of gold. It travels. It flows.
In Holstein, when a fire breaks out
people call it “hot rain.”
There was a time when fire was unknown.
Fire belonged to the gods.
An eagle – or a little bird –
carried a fierce coal from heaven.
Fire is holy. Fire leaps
out of earth like a fountain.
Fire, like water, is alive.
It eats the land clean.
Source: Teutonic Mythologie written by Jacob Grimm (1785 – 1863) and translated into English by James Steven Stallybrass (1826–1888). Volumes 2 and 4.
Method: In a process similar to erasure, I lifted text fragments and arranged them in the same order in which they appeared on the original page of text. The fragments were placed in couplets and in some cases re-written to tighten up or expand on the language in the original text.
Ariana Kramer is a freelance writer based in Taos, New Mexico. Her poetry reflects her appreciation for the natural world and the inner landscape, often incorporating elements from mythology and fairy tales. Her work has been recently published by The Poetry Box and Taos Journal of International Poetry and Art.
speakers of different languages
even inner speech
geniuses throughout history
thought outside the grooves
learning a new language
learning new modes of thought
adjust to the new lens
switch between thought-modes
gave the idea of linguistic relativity
dramatically different conceptual worlds
languages like Nootka, Shawnee, and Hopi.
“the Hopi language contains no reference to “time,” either explicit or implicit.”
a concept of “eventuating”
roughly comparable to
used for mental projections of the future.
leaving you sensing
there is some tantalizing alternative cosmology out there
beyond your grasp
there may well exist a completely different
down to the base ontologies of space and time.
Source: A chapter in Dying Words: Endangered Languages and What They Have To Tell Us, by Nicholas Evans (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010).
Method: Each new line represents a break in the text where erasure occurred. Punctuation and capitalization are faithful to the source.
Melissa Mesku is a writer and editor in New York.