Writers from across the country were given pages from Alice’s Adventures in
Wonderland and a black marker. A new collection of poetry was created by blacking
out words from Lewis Carroll’s novel with results that are curiouser and curiouser.
Packages that contained individual pages from the novel, a black marker, and instructions were sent by mail to writers across the country.
Writers chose words from each page to include in their poems and eliminated the others with lines or illustrative techniques using the black marker.
The poems were returned, scanned, and assembled as a collection. Chapters were organized based on the content of the various poems.
Erasure poems like the ones featured in this project are examples of how new work can come from old sources.
By altering Carroll’s text, the participating creatives skew the novel to a 21st century context and breathe new life into the relationships, language, and experiences of Wonderland.
Alice is famous for ignoring logical story conventions, which makes it all the more interesting that many of the writers were able to produce cohesive themes with their poems.
Reinterpretation is often an important part of the creative process. As Mark Twain once said “There is no such thing as a new idea...we simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope.”
Just as a musician samples another song or a visual artist combines separate images into a collage, erasure poetry is one of many different approaches that can give new meaning to creations from the past.