Erasure PoemThis is the fifth installment of The Curious Creative, weekly 10-minute writing exercises for the busy person interested in exploring her creativity. For the complete rationale, click here.
Recently, "found poetry" has become a popular sub-genre of poetry, and many literary magazines these days accept it, some exclusively. To create a found poem, you must choose a text and use only the words "found" therein to create your piece. Ideally, you should create a piece that has a different topic or meaning from the original. You are not merely summarizing the text, but transforming it into something other. There are many different methods for creating found poetry, all very playful. One of the most fun ways, because it involves the inherent satisfaction of crossing out things with a thick black marker, is called Erasure Poetry.
1. Find a text. It can be an article from a magazine or newspaper, a recipe from a cookbook, a letter, a page from a novel, etc. It shouldn't be too long. A page or less will do; otherwise, you'll feel overwhelmed. I chose a gardening article from Pacific NW magazine.
2. Move through the text, either circling the words you want to use, or crossing out the words you don't want to use. I looked for strong verbs and nouns that were specific, interesting-sounding, unique, or active. Die-hard found poets also circle prepositions and connecting words that will help the piece make sense. However, you can also add (make up) those words later if you'd like.
3. Handwrite the words you chose onto a fresh sheet of paper. Start to make decisions about line breaks. Do you want long lines or short lines? You can also change word order.
4. Repeat Step 2 by circling words on your handwritten draft. Pay attention to meaning as you piece together words into phrases and sentences that make sense.
5. Repeat Step 3 by copying those circles words/phrases onto a new piece of paper. Change word order and move lines around if you need to. Add connecting words and punctuation.
6. Repeat this process as many times as you'd like. Continue to make new decisions about line breaks and word order.Create stanzas.
I started with a gardening article about how to grow flower bulbs, and through this process, I transformed it into a political poem! Since it's on all my American friends' minds right now, I was in the mood to express the vibe of election day nearing, and how terrified we feel. Here's my final creation:
Bare the Time
cornered amid a fall
bare down for more.
Blast us with color
and right the space
not yet frozen!
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