Sunday, April 1, 2012

Erasure Poetry Project Accidentally Erases Entire English Canon

Assigned to compose "erasure poetry" - a form created by erasing words from existing texts - students in a graduate poetry workshop at WMU appear to have erased in their entirety all extant copies of such classics as Paradise Lost, Lyrical Ballads, and Middlemarch. "We're still not sure how they got hold of all those First Folios," said Professor Grace Tiffany, "but scholars are currently searching for Shakespearean actors who remember their lines well enough to reconstruct the plays. King John may well be lost forever."

Inspired by the hauntingly beautiful minimalism of works such as Ronald Johnson's Radi Os (created by erasing portions of the text of Paradise Lost) and Jen Bervin's Nets (created by erasing parts of Shakespeare's sonnets), the poetry students apparently lost control of their technique and could not stop erasing.

All of English poetry and prose has been reduced to a single letter o. The o, originally part of the title of Robert Herrick's "Delight in Disorder" in a paperback copy of the eighth edition of The Norton Anthology of English Literature Vol. 1, is thought to evoke simultaneous surprise, ecstasy, and grief, while signifying the nothing that once was English literature and to which it is now the sole remaining witness.

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