Hello, everyone! It’s Day 26 of NaPoWriMo. Counting today, we’ve got just five days left!

Our poetry-related link for the day is to THEthe Poetry, where you’ll find all kinds of interviews, poems, reviews, and even poetry comics!

Our featured participant’s link for the day is “that’s mrs. mediocrity to you”. I’m a terrible sleeper myself, so that may be why I so enjoyed the poem for Day 24, “the origins of cave painting.” But these poems in general have a very lovely sense of pacing and sound, as well as a subtle, assured tone.

And now, the (optional) prompt. This one’s a bit tricky, but I’ve used it to good effect in the past — and it’s the sort of thing you can do over and over again. Back in 1977, the poet Ronald Johnson first published RADI OS, an “erasure” of Milton’s Paradise Lost. Basically, Johnson took a copy of Milton’s long poem, and systematically erased whole words and even lines, while maintaining the relative position of the remaining words. You can see a brief excerpt here.

Today, I challenge you to perform an erasure of your own. You don’t need to start with a poem as long as Paradise Lost, of course, but a tolerably long poem is usually needed to furnish enough material so that the final product isn’t just a few words long (though erasure haiku might be a fun new subgenre). A few long poems that might respond well to erasure could be Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis, Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, or Tennyson’s The Lady of Shalott. Go ahead and copy and paste the text into a document, and then start whiting-out words. Or make a photocopy of a long poem you like, and mark over words on the copy. You can form a whole new poem just by taking words away! Once you’re done, you can leave the spaces as they are (I rather like the “ghosted” look of all that empty space), or take the left-over words and keep playing with them, reforming new poems from them. Happy writing!

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