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Erasure Poetry

APRIL is the cruellest month

Columbine
With a shower of
Bullets,
Down we went.

In the fire
of
Waco,
A heap of broken images,
Where the sun beats,
And the dead tree
Gives no shelter.

Oklahoma City.

– Yet we came back

And now
Looking into the heart of
Bad
Wicked
Man,
We fear.

Crowds of people,
Maimed.
Up the Street
A dead sound,
Crying,
A corpse.

Boston.

mon semblable — mon frere!

******************

April has been NaPoWriMo — National Poetry Writing Month.  Today’s Daily Prompt challenges us to write a poem.  I’m really not much of a poet, but one of the prompts from NaNoWriMo intrigued me.

 Back in 1977, the poet Ronald Johnson first publishedRADI OS, an “erasure” of Milton’s Paradise Lost. Basically, Johnson took a copy of Milton’s long poem, and systematically erased whole words and even lines, while maintaining the relative position of the remaining words.

(from NaPoWriMo.net prompt for Day 26)

Ever the cheater at prompts, I didn’t use whole words, but a lot of letters to put together the words I wanted to say.

Ever since the Boston bombing, I’ve had TS Eliot’s words from The Waste Land running through my head.  April is a most cruel month for Americans.  Columbine, Waco, Oklahoma City, and Boston are all mentioned, but I couldn’t fit in Virginia Tech or a shooting that took place very near me in Binghamton, NY.

Our country needs prayer.

Below are the actual erasures from The Burial of the Dead section of The Waste Land

APRIL is the cruellest month,
col
u
m
b
ine
With a shower of

  10

BuL
le
ts,

  15

down we went.
In the f
Ire of
Waco.

  20

A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter.
O
k

  25

l
aho
m
a

  30

city

  35

—Yet we came back
and no
w

  40

Looking into the heart of
bad

  45

wicked

  50

man
We
Fear,

  55

crowds of people
M
a
i

  60

m
ed.

  65

up the Street,
a dead sound
crying

  70

a corpse
bos
t
On

  75

mon semblable,—mon frère!”
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11 comments on “Erasure Poetry

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  3. Mia
    April 29, 2013

    Dear Sarah
    My heart is crying with you all in the USA. Our only consolation is that our Lord already overcame this world and is making it new!
    Blessings and love
    Mia

  4. catterel
    April 29, 2013

    Very moving – and remember, although he adopted England as his home, TS Eliot was an American.
    Interesting procedure – must try it out!

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  7. cloudcalling
    April 29, 2013

    This is such a great and gritty poem-post, the words spaced like spring heat and unfortunate shrapnel. It made me really feel the sharper edge of this pleasant and blooming month. Thank you.

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  11. Biochemical Alchemy
    April 30, 2013

    Poignant.

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This entry was posted on April 29, 2013 by in Postaday 2013 and tagged , , , , , , .

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