Hello and happy National Poetry Month! I’ve been a practitioner of erasure poetry for several years, and I’m constantly surprised by its many possibilities for creative reading, engagements with literary texts, experimental works of criticism. I’ve published several collections of poetry and hybrid writing that use these techniques: Women and Ghosts, an excavation of gendered violence in Shakespeare’s tragedies; Failure Lyric, an erasure and reframing of personal correspondence; and Vow, an erasure of my own work. I’m excited to share this writing prompt with you. It comes from my Erasure Poetry workshop at the Chicago School of Poetics, where I teach classes in experimental writing and literature.
First, choose a text by another writer. This can be anything from a Victorian novel to a field guide, an epic poem, a Shakespeare play, or a computer manual. Read through it carefully and consider the following question: What has been buried in so much other language? Then, by removing portions of the source text, your task will be to excavate what has been obscured by narrative, exposition, rhetoric, etc. There are many possibilities for excavating pieces of language from a text. You may choose to bring to light beauty, violence, a particular image that appears and reappears, or anything else that risks being lost.
Kristina Marie Darling is the author of over twenty books of poetry. Her awards include two Yaddo residencies, a Hawthornden Castle Fellowship, and a Visiting Artist Fellowship from the American Academy in Rome, as well as grants from the Whiting Foundation and Harvard University’s Kittredge Fund. Her poems and essays appear in The Gettysburg Review, New American Writing, The Mid-American Review, The Iowa Review, The Columbia Poetry Review, Verse Daily, and elsewhere. She is currently working toward both a Ph.D. in Literature at S.U.N.Y.-Buffalo and an M.F.A. in Poetry at New York University.