14 September 2013

the our lost jungle poetry form challenge: challenge #6 results

OLJ Poetry Form Challenge: Challenge #6 Results
I apologize for the delay in getting these results out! I got hit by a nasty cold this week which set me back a few days. Fortunately the unplanned day off yesterday (undesired, but needed) gave me extra time to read through all your fantastic erasures!

Erasure poems are always interesting because the source material does so much--and yet so little--to determine the end result. This week I was impressed by the variety of source materials you all used. I especially was fascinated by those of you who chose a poem as the source text! There's a lot of good-natured debate (and by "a lot" I mean "it comes up every once in a while amidst some circles I'm aware of") about this choice. The major arguments I've heard go something like this:

A: If you're using a poem, it's not so much an erasure as an edit.
B: Any erasure is an edit. You're taking a piece and condensing it into a poem.
A: But it's already a poem!

And so on. My ultimate conclusion for this argument is always something like this:
All life is already a poem--we're just pinching it into new form. 
In that way, all life is already an erasure poem: we pinpoint the moments we want to treasure, and--again--simply pinch it into new form. Maybe that's not a great argument. But maybe it's also the only argument there is. (This poet, in case you didn't know it, loves to argue in circular form.)

Now on to our winners. I say winners because erasure poetry is somewhat harder to "judge" than other forms because it's a form that's, arguably, more than poetic. Erasure started not as poetry but as art ... which means, for me at least, that it's not just looking at the content of the resulting poem but also looking at the restructuring of a source text into new art. When reading erasure poetry, some of you may have found yourselves looking less at the poetic content and more and the snaking and haphazard movement of words along a page. The poem becomes an artistic and literary form of Rorschach. All of this is a long way of saying that this week there was no one winner. Instead, I'd like to share a Rorschach journey with you. Look at all the pieces, see how each author picked out moments and pinches that struck them as important, how a page because less and then more familiar, and how each saw only what they wanted--or needed--to see.

Debi Swim's "New York"
De Jackson's "A Hitman Leaves" 
Barbara Young's "A Random Column of Wilson Follett" 
Marilyn Braendeholm's "The Wild Child" 
Michelle Pond's "hooked on the blues"
J.lynn Sheridan's "Shake/Speared love"

Take a look ... What do you see?


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  1. I like this form as well as the cento. I think this one is more of a challenge but it is really cool to see something totally different come forth.

    I wonder what we six would have done with the same material? It is so interesting that you used 'Rorschach' because I think it does show how we see things in such different ways and maybe that is from our various life experiences and personality.

    Nice prompt, Khara. I enjoyed it (and your erasure).

    1. Debi, I love your interpretation of the Rorschach nature of erasure. You're so right; who we are and how we think can shape and reshape everything and anything around us.

      As for six people working with the same text ... try it! :) I can all but guarantee awesome results. A few poet friends and I found a quirky, clever cat food ad and tasked each other to do just that; we each wrote unique poems, and it was exciting (ridiculously so, in fact) to see how each of us arranged the same group of words into such uniquely crafted poems!

  2. On this second look at everyone's work, I noticed that Debi and Janice erased part of a word. I didn't think to do that, but I will in future erasures.

    I enjoyed the form because it was a "reverse ekphrastic" for me. After completing the poem, I went through photos and doctored one to better represent the poem.

    1. I really like that you put it that way, Michelle ... I paired ekphrasis and erasure intentionally, actually, because both for me represent a very nice pairing of poetry and visual art (and both are forms dependent on an outside work to form the internal work of the poem)!

  3. Hope you're feeling much better, Khara!
    Thank you for sharing everybody's work. I've made rounds to those I hadn't seen yet. Wonderful!

  4. Oh, darn. I've been swamped and missed this. I love erasure and cento poems. But since I missed writing, I guess I just move on to reading them.


Thank you so much for your comments! Please feel free to share your thoughts here; I look forward to engaging in conversation with you!

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