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Dirk Willems




Erasure is a modernist poetry technique, a playful variation of found poetry that has been around for at least a century. Typically, poets work by erasing or redacting words from a significant text to uncover a new text. An article by Rachel Stone in The New Republic (23 October 2017), available on-line, observes "The Trump Era Boom in Erasure Poetry."

The erasure only makes sense in relation to the original—to celebrate, subvert, efface, complicate, or extend its meaning. Jen Bervin, for instance, has published an entire collection of poems based on sonnets by Shakespeare called Nets. Sometimes the original text remains visible over or under the derivative text. Or, as in the case below, only the new text appears. It seemed only a matter of time until someone made an erasure of the iconic 1569 story of Dirk Willems from Martyrs Mirror. (The spacing here partly preserves the location of phrases selected from an on-line version of the story as it was pasted into a Word document.)

Dirk Willems

the papists

remained

faithful

trustworthy

and   saved

The thiefcatcher     the burgomaster

the    papists

all pious Christians of this time, and

witness            that

the hands of God

passed upon

this matter.

From Braght, Thieleman J. van. The Bloody Theater of Martyrs Mirror of the Defenseless Christians, Who Baptized Only Upon Confession of Faith, and Who Suffered and Died for the Testimony of Jesus, Their Savior, From the Time of Christ to the Year A.D. 1660. Translated from the original Dutch or Holland Language from the Edition of 1660 by Joseph F. Sohm. http://www.homecomers.org/mirror/head.htm

About the Author

Julia Spicher Kasdorf is author of Shale Play: Poems and Photographs from the Fracking Fields, a documentary collaboration with Steven Rubin published in 2018 by Penn State Press. Her other books of poetry--Sleeping Preacher, Eve’s Striptease, and Poetry in America--have received the Agnus Lynch Starrett Prize, The Great Lakes Colleges Award for New Writing, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and a Pushcart Prize. She teaches poetry writing at The Pennsylvania State University.