Erasure Poems

Lesson Introduction

Sometimes limiting our choices inspires incredibly creative results. This writing exercise will give your students the chance to find their own voices while working with a block of text written by someone else.

Erasures are fun, but they can also be serious. This lesson plan refers to several examples of complex literary work created by respected poets using erasure as a tool, but this is ultimately an accessible writing exercise appropriate for students at all skill levels. Students will also be introduced to the kind of problem-solving that all poems demand, highlighting the importance of word choice and form. 

Learning Objectives

In this lesson, students will have opportunities to:

  • Improve language skills by focusing carefully on word choice.
  • Improve associative and improvisational thinking skills.
  • Understand the importance of context, arrangement, and form in writing.

Materials and Resources

To teach this lesson, you will need:

  • relevant books and other resources for illustration and inspiration 
  • A Humument by Tom Phillips: Bring in a copy of this book or project images of the ongoing art project from Tom Phillip’s site
  • Of Lamb and If the Tabloids Are True What Are You? (especially the poem “M Is for Martian”) by Matthea Harvey
  • A Little White Shadow by Mary Ruefle
  • Voyager by Srikanth Reddy
  • photocopies of single pages of prose taken from unusual sources: biographies, science text books, collected letters, newspaper articles, etc.
  • heavy dark-ink markers 

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