Erasure Poetry Experiment

Over at dVerse Poets Pub the poetic form for experimenting with today is erasure poetry. Here is what Anna Montgomery has to say about it:

Erasure poetry is a form of found poetry created by erasing words from an existing text in prose or verse and framing the result on the page as a poem. The results can be allowed to stand in situ or they can be arranged into lines and/or stanzas.

So here is my attempt at it, based on a poem I recently wrote about my name and how it looks on paper. Just about half of the words have been erased and I am amazed by how much tighter my poem now feels.  Maybe that’s the way to go!

I hated my name as a child.

I craved glamour – Esmeralda was my weapon of choice.

Not this    unruly.

A name dully     mushroomed to earth.

Sinuous paths circled     upholstered the cushions

the public face    gentled

yet snake-sliver too     less savoury worlds.

Is there a letter missing?


no jagged lines to cut flab

just something     scattered

fields far from home.

18 thoughts on “Erasure Poetry Experiment”

  1. Did you link to your original poem? This looks like “In Situ”, I am guessing.

    I like the wonderings of this poem.
    I changed my name several times in my life and had it changed for me several times too. I was always amazed by those who don’t like their names, why they don’t just change it.

    I wonder how my kids feel about their names? Smile
    Thanks for making me think.

    1. The others’ results look much more interesting, but it’s been a useful exercise for me.
      Esmeralda from ‘Hunchback of Notre Dame’ – couldn’t bear that nowadays!

  2. my fav parts of this are the last three lines….foe me there is a lot of emotion in them…our names are our most significant moniker…and when someone uses it we get the greatest sense of satisfaction as well…intriguing piece…

  3. Marina Sofia – Oh, what an interesting experiment with poetry! And your result is powerful. Our names and identities are so inter-related aren’t they?

  4. Really, I like how you accomplished this erasure poetry. I really do think it would be a good exercise to take a look at an earlier poem, as you did, and erase a lot of the words. Oftentimes, I think, what results IS for the better. Your way of doing it has inspired me. And it is interesting to think about one’s names and how a person feels about them.

  5. No worries on how you approached the exercise, other poets used their own work as well. I think your revision has a directness and emotional power. What you leave out gives the reader more imaginative space. Thanks so much for joining us!

    1. Thank you so much for coming over and your encouragement. I love the work I get to see at dVerse. And it’s so important to practise and try out new things, isn’t it?

  6. This is incredible. Yours is the best approach thus far, in my opinion. How effective to take your own poem and seek to trim it down. We should all probably do more snipping when we write.

    Excellent work. I especially like these:
    “Not this unruly.”
    “yet snake-sliver too less savoury worlds”
    “no jagged lines to cut flab just something scattered fields far from home”

    I love what you did with the gaps, I presume to show where you cut unnecessary words. But also, it’s just visually appealing and allows for more pausing. I love this.

    1. Yes, the pauses are where words are missing, but not in all cases. Just where I thought it would be more significant. Thank you so much for your kind words. It’s harder to cut your own words in poetry than in prose, I think!

  7. Wow. This is fascinating. Rather than repeat all above comments, I must say that the empty space the erased word left has it’s own musical magic. (As if the erased word left a trace/beat.)

  8. I agree with what others have said. Like what girl in the hat points out about the spaces. The mushroom image reminds me of both ordinariness and catastrophe (i.e. mushroom cloud). Love “gentle” as a verb.

    Not this unruly.

    A name dully mushroomed to earth.

    the public face gentled

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