Erasure: Poetic Form
PostedMay 10, 2018
Erasure poetry, or blackout poetry, is a form of found poetry wherein a poet takes an existing text and erases, blacks out, or otherwise obscures a large portion of the text, creating a wholly new work from what remains.
Erasure poetry may be used as a means of collaboration, creating a new text from an old one and thereby starting a dialogue between the two, or as a means of confrontation, a challenge to a pre-existing text.
One seminal work of erasure poetry is Ronald Johnson’s Radi Os (Flood Editions, 1977), a revision of the first four books of John Milton’s Paradise Lost. Other more contemporary examples of erasure include Jen Bervin’s Nets (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2003); The O Mission Repo by Travis Macdonald (Fact-Simile Editions, 2008); The ms of my kin by Janet Holmes (Shearsman Books, 2009); Of Lamb by Matthea Harvey (McSweeney’s, 2011); David Dodd Lee’s Sky Booths in the Breath Somewhere, The Ashbery Erasure Poems (BlazeVOX, 2011); M. NourbeSe Philip’s Zong! (Wesleyan University Press, 2011); and Srikanth Reddy’s Voyager (University of California Press, 2011).