NaPoWriMo Quarantine Edition – Exercise 15

A year ago today, Notre Dame cathedral in Paris caught fire. I know, it feels like a lifetime ago, doesn’t it? Nonetheless, it was one year ago.

Your task today is to write an erasure or blackout poem about the cathedral and fire, using one of the many news articles about the fire, the post-fire reconstruction, scientists examining the cathedral remains as part of the reconstruction effort, or the news reports about the Good Friday Mass being held there a few days ago, despite the pandemic.

As with all found poems, you begin with a chunk of text – a news article, a story, a letter, whatever – and pare away at it until what is left forms a poem. There is a slight difference between blackout and erasure –in a blackout poem you take a black pen (or digital equivalent) and actually cross things out. The redactions plus the remaining visible words form the poem together – the visual and spatial relationships are a part of it. In an erasure poem, you just keep the words that are unredacted.

Good manners in this sort of thing dictate that you should be erasing at least 50% of the words in the original, and that you should also acknowledge your source. So: do that.

And wash your hands.

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