Written by Emily Harstone May 22nd, 2013

Writing Prompt: Erasure

This writing prompt is a little different. Instead of requiring you to write words with a pen, this writing exercise is all about crossing things out with a sharpie. This week the writing exercise is to create an erasure.

An erasure is a poem that starts out with a piece of existing text, but instead of adding to it, you subtract. Some poets cut words or sentences out with a knife, most write over it with a sharpie. The text they are altering could be a newspaper article, or a page from a book. They turn the prose into a poem by subtracting words and by using only the words given to them.

You can see a good example of an erasure poem here.

The writing prompt this week is for you to create an erasure poem. You can use a page (or pages) from an old book you rescued from the sidewalk or you can use the newspaper. You could also find a book online that is in the public domain and print one of the pages off. Personally if I am going to do an erasure I actually like to do the same page more than once and compare the results.

I highly recommend that you do this exercise without reading the whole page or article first. I find the poems tend to be more creative if you experiment that way.

Feel free to erase as much or as little as you want. Some people cover up a few words, others remove hundreds of words per page, leaving just a few. When you are creating your erasure do whatever feels natural to you.

When you are making your first erasure it is best to do it with a black marker or a sharpie, but as you make more, you might want to be more creative with how you cover up the words you don’t want to use.


We Send You Publishers Seeking Submissions.

Sign up for our free e-magazine and we will send you reviews of publishers seeking short stories, poetry, essays, and books.

Subscribe now and we'll send you a free copy of our book Submit, Publish, Repeat