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Erasure Poetry

Published May 15, 2020
Created by Eleanor Boudreau


Destruction is also creation. And this Make it with MoFA is all about a form of destruction that is both visual art and lyric: erasure poetry.

Erasure poetry is simple.


  1. Pick a text to erase. Artists have used newspaper stories, famous poems, obscure novels, and many other kinds of texts. I recommend starting with no more than a page, and perhaps just a paragraph or two.


  1. Block out the words you don’t need to reveal your erasure poem. You can use a black Sharpie, white out, color pencil, or draw and collage over the words you don’t want.


That’s it! Scroll down for examples.


Travis Macdonald argues that time and the elements were the first erasure poets, since they have effaced sacred scriptures, stone engravings, the works of Sappho, and many, many other texts.


Nonetheless, there can be beauty and expression in the act of erasure. As an erasing of the word “erasing” reveals:

Erasing/    sing/     i


Here is one of Austin Kleon’s newspaper blackout poems. (He used a Sharpie.)














Here are the first two pages from my erasure of John Milton’s “Lycidas.” I turned this canonical, bromantic elegy into a story about two sorority girls. And I used color pencils.





































































Page from Tom Phillips’ erasure poem “A Humument”