Something Like This Long Sweeping Arc
January 2, 2012 § 9 Comments
More erasure poetry! (Check out our first attempts here.)
This time we dissected a nonfiction book written to young teens who might be considering humanitarian trips to Africa. Sad to say, it was a book full of cliches, and we found it hard to make new poems sans cliche. However, we strode through the pages like a couple of water buffaloes on parade. But slimmer. Here’s what we came up with.
Joining us was our good friend Anna. (Expect to see some guest posts from her later!) Her poem:
“I learned from the world”
The evening sparked a good conversation as to whether or not erasure poems are entirely one’s own, especially since – if retyped separately – many of these lines are taken verbatim from somebody else’s phrase. Yet each of us looking at the same page would come up with three very different poems.
And it’s not so much “this long, sweeping arc” that is moving as much as it is when paired with “something like / this long, sweeping arc”; not just “where you first tossed it,” but that idea paired with “it becomes more” that starts to provide imagery, meaning, and originality. We may use the same lines as the initial writer, but we infuse it with our own context and purpose, and it becomes a different piece altogether. Plagiarism and inspiration sometimes walk a close line, but as Billy Collins writes, all writers steal from each other. What do you think about it?
This exercise has been such a fun and simple way to get the creative juices going. Have you tried it yet? If so, send your creations to abigail.lzc at gmail dot com, and we’ll feature it in our next post on erasure poems!