The experimental work I posted about not too long ago not only has a name now, “corner of the world,” it was published (!) by 3:AM Magazine this week. (Many thanks to 3:AM poetry editor Steven J. Fowler.)
It’s three photos, of page fragments. Some photos are photos of a torn photo, repeated a couple times. The page fragments were torn from an uncorrected advance proof of a novel, which I reviewed (favorably, I should add). So no “art,” author’s reputation, or publisher’s investment was done any malice to create this. I mention this because my worry about destroying a book is part of what kept the experiment moving forward. My first thought was it’d be neat to create an erasure by taking out a couple pages of a book and selectively blacking out words. But after tearing out a few pages cleanly I accidentally tore one in half. So I ended up tearing out more bits and pieces.
After I had the fragments, before I even thought to start crossing out words, I arranged three of them on the floor. There was something about seeing real pieces of a book torn out like that. It felt as if I’d done something wrong. I mean, I like books, of course. Maybe too much. So it didn’t seem right destroying one, even an ARC that already had my red-ink scribbles on every other page.
I ended up taking a picture of the pieces out of guilt, sort of memorializing the pages and what I’d done to them. After transferring the photo to my computer I opened this very basic photo editing software I have. But using the marker tool to put black bars over the text looked wrong to me. It said too much too loudly, didn’t seem right after I’d already done this violent thing by tearing out pages of a book. It also reminded me of things we see in the news so often, all those images of redacted documents that illustrate the ugliness of domestic surveillance.
I undid those changes with the black marker tool and decided to gently “smudge” the text instead. Right away I liked the effect much better. It turned the text to a gray smoke instead of imposing black boxes in the middle of an otherwise orderly field of text. It was slow work smudging the text and making soft squiggles, but I think it was a good way to go and I like how it turned out.
Thanks for reading. If you have any comments about the images/poem do let me know.