Erasure Poetry Workshop

This one-day workshop was a collaboration between myself and artist Fenneke Wolters-Sinke.

Participants first learned how to use pages from old books to create new poems – a form of found poetry.  They were then guided on how to add a visual layer to ‘erase’ the unwanted text from the page to create an erasure poem. The emphasis on the day was on experimentation and creative play.

The poems come from the book, The Earth Girdled, which was written by an American – the Rev. T. DeWitt Talmage in 1896 documenting his travels around the world.  I chose this text due to its references to the earth and to journeys then linked it more specifically to our landscape by choosing pages from the chapter he wrote about his visit to Scotland.

Using an old text like this has many advantages. The language is different to how we speak now and this provides tension and challenges in creating lines of poetry from it.  This often results in quite ambiguous language which offers the reader a variety of paths for making meaning.

I enjoy working with this technique myself because it results in a very different voice to the one I usually write with. The process of creating this type of poem is a very unconscious one and any concerns or preoccupations often show up on the page – an additional therapeutic benefit to the already enjoyable creative one of writing and making a visual response to the words.

Participant’s feedback:

 “My sense of wellbeing was improved through permission to play – where the focus is not on the end product but on the process of its creation.”

“It was a very meditative, unconscious way of making art which I haven’t experienced before.”