Poem challenge!

In celebration of National Poetry Month and the shift in our MLWGS curricular focus to Latin America, here’s a poem challenge:

Write a poem inspired by, built from (found poem), or carved from (erasure poem) one of the following sources:

  • Venezuala’s Tiananmen Square Moment: The Woman and the Armored Truck (CNN, 20 April 2017)
  • The opening page (in English or Spanish) of Isabel Allende’s story “Two Words” from The Stories of Eva Luna (copies of the page available in the library and in PDF until April 28). If you write a found/erasure poem from the Spanish, please provide an English translation.

Submit your poem by Friday, April 28th.


All entries will be posted on the library’s chalkboard wall and included in a drawing for a copy of Tarfia Faizullah’s poetry collection Seam.

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Posted by on April 21, 2017 in news


Book-length erasure or found poem projects

These projects strive for transformation or re-invention of sources rather than the documentary representation reflected in Tarfia Faizullah’s Seam.

Sometimes these works even depend on the destruction of the original source; this method is most evident in the work of Phillips and Ruefle.

Would you call these excavations? defacements? something else?

Doing this type of work with the intention of publishing requires attention to copyright, so most writers and artists work with sources in the public domain. For more information on this topic, read the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Poetry. For links to online archives that include sources you might use to create your own such project, see the sources page of Poetry River.

Contrast these projects with video documentary poems created in collaboration with filmmakers, photographers, and musicians. This poetry has a strong visual element too, but similar to Faizullah’s poems in Seam, strives to represent sources authentically. Examples include video poems produced by Kwame Dawes and Natasha Trethewey . Links to their projects can be found on the docupoetry page of Poetry River.

Which of these document-based or document-inspired approaches appeals to you? Why?

Try a method discussed in this blog post or the previous post about news poems, found poems, docupoems, and erasures.  Transform a familiar poem published before 1923, or use a news article as a source. If you opt for the latter path, here are three articles you might use as sources:



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Posted by on April 6, 2017 in news


Docupoems, news poems, found poems, and erasures

Two opportunities to send your poems into the world:

Found poems

Select an article (or two) from the New York Times – create a found poem – and post it to their designated page by May 9th to enter the Eighth Annual Found Poem Contest

Check out their previous winners.

Docupoems / News poems

For examples of docupoems written by MLWGS students based on transcripts of interviews with veterans, explore the examples at the bottom of the library’s documentary poetry guide.

One place to send docupoems or news poems based on events in headlines during the current week is Rattle‘s Poets Respond competition.

Learning more about documentary poetry and its many possibilities

Interested in playing with erasures?  Try the online erasure tool from Wave Books. Consider challenging a friend – or everyone at your table – to pick the same source text and create an erasure. You’ll be surprised at how your erasures reflect your individual writing styles. Fair warning: the save function doesn’t always work, so take a screenshot of your poem or print your poem to keep it.

Happy writing!



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Posted by on April 6, 2017 in news


And the winners are…

…Ivan Marshall and Sam McCormack!

After the pep rally today, Dr. Ellis drew two winning names from among 23 entries in the prize drawing that was part of the library’s Dragons Unplug challenge this month. Three students designed their own unplug practice and 20 participated in Lunch Unplugged outdoors, in the library, or on a VMFA field trip with Mrs. Boswell.

Ivan and Sam – you can pick up your gift card in the library on Monday, April 3rd.


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Posted by on March 31, 2017 in news