December 01, 2022
Happy December, everyone. Where has the time gone? I don't know what happened to November.
Recently I participated in a small-group chat about "Do not trust the eraser," by Rosamond S. King. It's amazing much discussion how this shorter, open-ended poem generated. It starts,
Do not trust the eraser. Prefer
crossed out, scribbled over monuments
I hadn't known King's work at all beforehand, and having read more of the pieces linked on her website here, I find it really powerful. Frankly, I'd enjoy continuing to talk about "Do not trust the eraser," so, if you'd like, let me know what you think! A couple of questions, just to get started: who or what is the eraser? What do you make of the punctuation? Why "mis takes" and not "mistakes?" There are no wrong answers, of course; these are just things in the work that I wonder about.
The December 2nd Poetry Friday roundup is at Reading to the Core.
Photo by ST: Pencil (with eraser) sculpture, Bridgeport, CT
Re: mis takes vs mistakes, feels like a lot of generosity on King's part -not a forgiveness, but the raw honesty of one who understands the difference between truth and story.
Posted by: PATRICIA J FRANZ | December 03, 2022 at 12:53 PM
This is right up my alley--no erasing! Every word has its function, deserves to be seen, just as every person has their role, deserves to stand like a monument to themself. Where did your small-group chat take place, and with whom? Sounds very interesting.
Posted by: Heidi Mordhorst | December 03, 2022 at 05:19 PM
I read the eraser as those who would have us forget our history (the anti-CRT crew), conveniently sweeping the less savory parts under the rug rather than acknowledging mistakes. This reminds me of the placards we saw on former Confederate monuments in Baltimore near the art museum that explained what had been there and why it is harmful to continue celebrating those people and times.
Posted by: Mary Lee | December 03, 2022 at 06:14 PM
Ooh, I love what y'all are saying about this poem. Our small meetup group is connected with the free Coursera online class Modern & Contemporary Poetry (ModPo), run by the UPenn professor Al Filreis & co. It's a course where participants stay, even after completing the requirements! Prime season (Sept. through late Nov.) is over, but there are mini-courses (SloPo) starting in January.
Patricia, "mis takes" as generous on the poet's part. Yes! The word gives us permission to be imperfect as we progress. "Mistakes" would have sounded so final.
Heidi, "every person has their role, deserves to stand like a monument to themself" is so apt. You could look at the monument as "your original/genius." I didn't connect those two previously, but now I will! I enjoy the kicking apart of the usual punctuation, too, with periods at the beginning of sentences.
Oh, yeah, Mary Lee, for sure. That eraser could definitely be systems of oppression, I think. Very interesting to hear about the monuments in Baltimore. Context is everything!
Posted by: Susan | December 04, 2022 at 10:22 AM
What a great sculpture! What a powerful poem! I never erase or delete drafts; who knows what gems are hiding there? I agree with Mary Lee's take on King's poem and her comment about understanding the harm caused by celebrating perpetrators of oppression. Thank you for sharing!
Posted by: Catherine Flynn | December 12, 2022 at 06:29 AM