Tag Archives: erasure poetry

Finding Meaning Between The Black Lines

Blackout poetry, or erasure poetry, is unique in that you are working with a predetermined set of words. You can blackout or erase as much or as little as you like. Form new words and phrases from what exists.

But what does it mean? A recent conversation with creative collaborators posed this question and one suggestion was that blackout poetry was a search for meaning. Firstly as individual; secondly for the audience. 

I compose firstly for myself, then for an audience. However the text also exists independent of me as creator. 

With that in mind, I took the initial post that sparked this discussion and made three erasure poems. Each time I looked for something different; another angle, a change of perspective. 

For these I copied the text into a document and used the highlighter tool. Hence some fragment spaces.

There were a couple of words or phrases I returned to, a focal point or locus for writing but I had to deliberately move away from them to forge something new.

Was I looking for something of myself in the poetry? I am not sure. Sometimes there is an identification with the text. At other times it is an enjoyment of the construction of language. While perhaps it is also a disquieting of the soul and heart when darker ideas and phrases emerge.

I don’t think there is a clear answer to the question. If anything, the new text raises more questions. Questions that may have an answer or questions that may provoke a dialogue.

I’ll leave the answers up to you.

#1 Traces of Light


#2 Stillness and Shenanigans 


#3 The Countless Hours


Zentangle #9 Cinema



to witness
the cinema
in your soul
shout and scream
“I want 
to believe
I’m just so!”


The alternative title for this poem is “Existential Bullshit” because nothing says existential, nihilistic angst crisis than an appropriation of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.” 

On another side note, I will soon be making my zentangle/blackout poems and Handwritten Pages available for sale. Stay tuned.

More Blackout Poetry To Keep Making Art



I shall
the emptiness
of years
swell into
a poet



I’m not
fully conscious
hair grows
in other places
all that flesh and blood is
the idea
to grow up



I ought to really
ask you a typically stupid question

Zentangle #4


humans love sadness
it was a comfort
in the end

Still not a zentangle in the official sense but an interesting experiment nonetheless in my continuing defacing (or repurposing) of Jostein Gaarder’s novel, “Through A Glass Darkly.”

And a bonus blackout poem from the same novel because it was fun to do and it’s keeping me writing and creating when time is limited. 


keep an eye on beauty
to school times
sit with 
the old gods
how everything was

Alice’s Adventures In Blackout Poetry

It’s funny how way leads on to way when it comes to creativity.

Last week I was chatting with Jodi (my writing co-conspirator) and she posed the question, “What would we do with the same page of text to create a poem?”

We think very differently in some respects when it comes to creativity. 

I tend to use the blackout/erasure method while Jodi has been utilising a cut and paste methodology. 

It’s different architectures for artistry. Jodi prefers the physicality of moving chunks of text to create and find meaning whereas I use the text as it is available, using the pieces to create the whole. It is physically passive whereas the cut and paste adds another physical, active dimension to creativity.

Simply different approaches to creating art.

Even in a brief discussion about creating these poems there are lessons to be learned; different approaches and different perspectives that can be translated into other creative areas. Take each creative activity as a learning experience. 

This is my contribution (I will arrange it into lines for easier reading):

the reason
time happens
is the young
know a proposal
every word a story
their names were
questions of the extraordinary


You can see Jodi’s contribution over on her blog, Pursuing Parallels.

A Found Poem

Rifling through this list, 51 Of The Most Beautiful Sentences in Literature (via Buzzfeed) a poem formed in my mind by compiling, editing, amending some of the sentences.

I have come across this form by other writers. It’s an interesting new form in that it is almost a type of plagiarism (except I am acknowledging my sources), to create a new piece of work with words that are not mine. In some ways it is another form of blackout or erasure poetry.

Follow the link above to see which sentences I have borrowed and what I have changed. There are some instances of changing letters for the sake of grammatical accuracy, and I have divided up some of the sentences to link them with specific ideas or imagery.

I took a deep breath
and listened to the old brag of my heart;
I am, I am, I am.
Sometimes I can feel my bones straining
under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.
Do I dare
disturb the universe?
What are men to rocks and mountains?
Folks say God crumbles up the old moon into stars.
The pieces I am,
I could see
standing there
leaning on the balcony railing.
How wild it was,
to let it give
them back to me
in all the right order.
an enormous, unmerited gift
given randomly,
holding the universe together.
Everything was beautiful
and nothing hurt.
Let me be something
every minute
of every hour
of my life.
Let the wild rumpus start.

When In Doubt, Write Poetry By Erasing Words

Diving back into the classics for more blackout poetry.

You’ll find my first two attempts here (Moby Dick – Herman Melville) and here (Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad)

I have taken the first page of a range of texts and used the tone and ideas to create something new.


from Frankenstein – Mary Shelley (click image to enlarge)


Who I Am

from The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald (click image to enlarge)


What Your Mind Has Made 

from The Picture of Dorian Grey – Oscar Wilde (click image to enlarge)



A New Situation for Families

from Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy (click image to enlarge)







Like Ivy

from The Strange Case of Dr. Jeykll and Mr. Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson (click image to enlarge)


Blackout Poetry – Another Questionable Attempt



Between us
the bond of
periods of separation
a box of dominoes
the anchor
we did not begin that game of
placid staring
The day 
was a benign unstained
Only the 
somber minute
angered by the
curved and imperceptible
a change
more profound
unruffled dignity
that comes and departs in the
abiding memories. Indeed nothing’s
than to evoke
its unceasing

After yesterday’s modicum of success with blackout poetry, I tried my hand at another (need to do something creative at the moment while I get my head back into shape to tackle some significant writing projects in January).

This page comes from Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness.” I studied this text in high school last century and thoroughly enjoyed it. Admitting at the time I didn’t quite understand the colonialism and inherent racism, it still holds as a powerful metaphor. Tie it with Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now” and you have a teenager’s existential orgasm. 

So, with that in mind, I wanted explored the idea of relationships through the text.

It’s a diversion from writing Post It Note Poetry (and a couple of other major works in progress) but I posit that flogging someone else’s idea to pursue something creative is better than nothing. Blackout, or erasure, poetry makes you look at words, their order and the meaning created. It opens your mind to see other possibilities, limited as it is by the choice of text, to create something new.

I encourage you to try it yourself. Or buy a colouring book and pencils. Do something to stimulate your brain.