From Poetry Magazine

From Snow City

By Fred Sasaki

Poetry magazine recently received erasures of the May 2011 issue via Eric Elshtain, editor of Beard of Bees Press and poet-in-residence at John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital through the non-profit Snow City Arts Foundation. He conducts poetry and art workshops in the pediatrics ward at Stroger, working with children from the ages of 3 to 23. We are stunned and in love with these beautiful gifts. Please continue reading for more information about the Snow City Arts poetry erasure project as told by Elshtain.

At John H. Stroger Hospital, Snow City Arts poet-in-residence Eric Elshtain has been using the May 2011 issue of Poetry as a source for erasure poems. Patients are asked to read through the issue and find a poem that appeals to them in some way, whether it be a turn of phrase, an image, the subject matter. They are then shown examples of erasure poetry, including work by Tom Phillips, Mary Ruefle, and Ronald Johnson.

After the erasure poets have changed the source texts to fit their ideas and ears, they are asked to find or to compose an image to overlay on the poem. Using Photoshop, they superimpose the image and text and use the actual “erase tool” to uncover the text from “behind” the image. You will notice that some of the pieces allow the source text to show through, highlighting the textual decisions the erasure poets have made.

Because of privacy issues, only the patients’ first names appear here.

"The Land of Nod," by James Arthur

"Quarantine," by Malachi Black

“Dawn Chorus” by Sasha Dugdale

"Special Treatments Ward, "by Dana Gioia

“What Did You See?” by Fanny Howe

“Poem Beginning with a Line by Milosz” by Mark Irwin

“The Obsoletion of Language” by Kay Ryan

“Dominion Over the Larger Animal” by Sophie Cabot Black

“Bird Left Behind” by Sophie Cabot Black

“Preserves” by Stephen Yenser

Originally Published: February 14th, 2012