Erasure Poems

These three erasure poems were made by selectively omitting text from three different critical reviews in old issues of Opera News magazine, isolating phrases in sequence in order to create new written works. The poems were published in Suggested Volume, a gallery publication to accompany the 2015 group show, “Aggregate: Structure and Space” curated by Erin Dodson and Eric Dodson of the Kiosk Gallery.

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DRAMA IN NAPLES

Backstage
Thanksgiving night
the purity
had disappeared
The talented stage director
had changed into street clothes
convalescing
to suffocation
Not even aware that
hundreds of roses
showered onto the stage

erasure poem adapted from Opera News reports, January 16, 1960

 

THE EXPRESSIVE SILENCES

By miracle
a mere technical device
a revolt against
the simplest language
left unsaid
Maeterlinck understood
the helplessness
in this context
no useless events ever occur
certainly there are
universal overtones
unanswered riddles
familiar figures
over a sea
through the child’s uncomprehending eyes
noninterference
a figure of speech
we rarely notice
the old king
runs like a blind fool
at the bottom of the ocean
there is no need
to avoid the conventions
remaining ambiguous
at every moment
giving answers that do not answer
I am lost — lost —
not attuned to the mystical
Pelléas, on the other hand
caught after hours without his sword
found her by accident
a most unusual case

erasure poem adapted from “The Expressive Silences” by Katherine Griffith, Opera News, January 16, 1960
METHODS OF MADNESS

For over a century
the multiplicity of
first appearances
suggests
an ancient obsession
behind the veils of
creation
and what shall we say
to pick and choose
with maximum effectiveness?
eliminating
discussion as
somnambulism
the plaudits of the public
laugh off
these coloratura heroines
from the age when
semaphoric gestures
mad scenes
musical phrases
actual emotions
whose identity she does not know
in faltering phrases
reminiscent of
the point of tears
past joys
protestations
a momentary felicity
woven into fabric
insoluble
complex
beloved

erasure poem adapted from “Methods of Madness” by Mary Ellis Peltz, Opera News, March 31, 1958

 

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