One more poem inspired by
that Starbucks in Philadelphia White Supremacy:
To be Black
is to always be
in the wrong place at the wrong time
there is never
a right place for Black people.
For Black people,
this is what we live
every damn day.
Everything Black people do is weighted,
by irrational white fear.
When you’re Black,
you just know.
You just know
not to do anything,
that would further escalate.
Nothing will ever change
until a majority of white people
stop perceiving Black existence as sinister,
Talking about racism
may hurt white people’s feelings,
but unchecked racism
continues to endanger Black lives.
Oh, I’m taking all kinds of liberties with this form now. It’s still wholly, uncomfortably unwieldy in my hands, however. Halfway through the month, and I still feel like I’m losing the greased pig contest.
It’s National Poetry Month! Every year, I choose a specific form and try to write a poem a day in that form. This year, I am trying erasure poems and I want to use news articles as my source texts. I’ve practiced a few times, and it’s already feeling difficult! We’ll see how it goes.
Here’s an edited version of the Wiki definition of this form:
Erasure Poetry: a form of found poetry created by erasing words from an existing text in prose or verse and framing the result on the page as a poem. Erasure is a way to give an existing piece of writing a new set of meanings, questions, or suggestions. It lessens the trace of authorship but requires purposeful decision making. What does one want done to the original text? Does a gesture celebrate, denigrate, subvert, or efface the source completely? One can erase intuitively by focusing on musical and thematic elements or systematically by following a specific process regardless of the outcome.
Also, Robert Lee Brewer at Writer’s Digest has some good points to add about ethics and plagiarism:
Quick note on ethics: There is a line to be drawn between erasure poems and plagiarism. If you’re not erasing more than 50% of the text, then I’d argue you’re not making enough critical decisions to create a new piece of art. Further, it’s always good form to credit the original source for your erasures.