Found Poetry Prompt: Erasing “Open City”

Open City by Teju Cole

This post is part of a series of weekend found poetry prompts. If you have an idea for a found poetry source, email Senior Poetry Editor Beth Ayer at .

Your prompt: create an erasure or “blackout” poem from page 256 of Open City by Teju Cole (below). Here are a few guidelines for creating your erasure poem:

  • Black out the source text, leaving only the words, letters and punctuation you will use for your found poem.
  • Do not change the word order of the original text.
  • Add or alter punctuation and capitalization as needed.
  • Create a poem with a meaning different from that of the source material.

(The above image is from a cover of Open City by Teju Cole. Random House 2011.)




  • August 11, 2013

    Wm. Todd King


    The way down was air alone.

    Straight up,
    light perpetually wreathing night,
    the miasma of moonless fireflies my eyes could not grasp,
    the echo of something in the past;
    unfathomable distances extinguished at greater speeds.

    Dark spaces between the dead still existed
    as blank interstices on earth.

    The slipped time and blurred starlight caught in a blind spot.

  • August 16, 2013

    Julie Briggs

    Washed moonless
    the sky
    like a wonderful
    unfathomable present
    Giving me time
    to escape

  • August 21, 2013

    Dave Bonta

    The ground opened; I entered with relief.
    There were lights and distances,
    dark spaces between the dead,
    ice and fire.
    I looked down, a wailing
    reaching me from below.
    I wished I was blind.