This week I asked my students to create erasure poems from five chapters of Findings, Kathleen Jamie’s fabulous collection of essays on “the natural and unnatural world.” An erasure poem retains the words and word order of the original, and removes all but a small portion of the text. The task for the students, therefore, was to read the essay with close attention to the particularities of each word, while keeping an eye on how these words build into meanings and stories. The exercise is one more way of attending to a text, then using this attention to create new work. An inward movement, listening, then an outward gesture of response. We ended the class by reading the resulting poems aloud, with silence between readings. I found the readings particularly interesting and beautiful: hearing familiar and esteemed essays through the ears and minds of my students.
Click on the thumbnail images below to view a slideshow of the students’ work.