The Whats of Winnows & Whales: Experiences in Radical Erasure

Craft of Writing / L’art de l’écriture
Studio Theatre, Harbourfront Centre Main Building

Maxianne Berger’s Winnows is an extreme erasure of Moby Dick. Using examples from her own doggedness as well as from erasures by others, Berger will illustrate some of the technical challenges of this constraint-based approach to poetry, strategies for overcoming them, as well as important caveats. Where erasure is often referred to as “experimental”  — as are its kin, the cut-up and the cento — “experimental” is not a pejorative. Because the source text is not incognito, it is more than a mere repository of vocabulary. When texts produced engage with their sources, the resulting tension itself reveals the latent power of erasure as a poetic strategy.