Saturday, January 24, 2009

[Less] than words

If you're like me you maybe wanted to read the 9/11 Commission Report but were like, "Dude, that is way too long." And so maybe you went and read the graphic novel version. And while the graphic adaptation was good, maybe you were left thinking, "Might there be a way to make this report even shorter? Maybe boil it down to its poetic essence?"

Enter The O Mission Repo by Travis Macdonald and published by Fact-Simile Editions. It is, as the kids are calling it today, erasure poetry. In other words, poets take existing works and cross out the words that aren't their poem. It's like whittling wood, in a way, although I have never done that. Erasure poetry, on the other hand, does not involve knives, though I have seen it involve White-Out (in Mary Ruefle's book A Little White Shadow, in fact, which was my first exposure to this whole erasure concept). It's a fun exercise and can produce some really great stuff (you can try it for yourself at the Wave Books site).

It seems more than appropriate to see this practice applied to the 9/11 Commission Report. After all, the government has been practicing erasure poetry (heavy on the erasure part, light on the poetry) for years.

Poets and Writers have a write up on The O Mission Repo in their Jan/Feb 09 issue, which is where I heard about it. I haven't read the book myself yet, but the introduction looks very promising.

No comments: