An erasure poem is part of a tradition of using pre-existing texts, stripping away some of the words, and revealing a new creation with what remains. The erasure part echoes the kind of blacking out of text used when classified information is made public. A good definition can be found on the Found Poetry Review’s website at http://www.foundpoetryreview.com/about-found-poetry.
My erasure poem comes from page 46 of the book The Art of the Deal, attributed to but not really written at all by Donald Trump.
The title “Heart Heal“ is part of the erasure:
THE ART OF THE DEAL turns into THE ART OF THE DEAL, or
This poem was actually the second idea I had for participation in Poets and Writers Stand Against Trump, an inauguration day protest event.
My first idea was to work with Trump’s tweets and his use (overuse) of not just the word “sad“ but also, and often, followed by an exclamation point.
When I read, I usually sound out the words in mind, so “sad!” often sounds like an overexcited shout, like something a drunk person would say and you don’t know if they are excited by the sadness of whatever it is they are talking about, or if they are just excited to have an audience.
So I read Trump’s tweets. You can too. His tweets are being archived at http://trumptwitterarchive.com
Here’s the thing. As I kept reading tweet after tweet, I felt myself descend into feelings of despair. His writing is vain, petty, grotesque, misguided, short-sighted, argumentative, blaming, scape-goating, petulant, snappish, whiny, ill-informed, and stupid. The tweets are Trump unfiltered. There is no central point or rationale, except me, me, me – which exemplifies, I think, the worst of his generation, the boomers.
The writing isn’t witty, smart, or fun. I value those three things so much that I abandoned even continuing to think about creating a project involving those tweets. My thoughts were along the lines of a list of everything that makes him sad, or an erasure poem with graphics of the tweets, but only leaving “sad!” behind.
Then I thought about The Art of the Deal. Looked it up on Amazon and took a screenshot of a random page and starting taking words away.
I ended up with a poem that can look like this:
Instead, I become much tougher
To see the graphic form of the poem, visit this page: https://michaeljanairo.com/2017/01/20/heart-heal-an-erasure-poem-from-art-of-the-deal/
I know Trump didn’t actually write the book. And the book being a distillation, a filtered version of Donald, was easier to read through. Yet I still felt a sense of power in taking away words and of repurposing them to craft a new kind of message of defiance and resistance.