During the last winter months, I dedicated the majority of my time to the creation of my bachelor thesis, which concerned the enigmatic oeuvre of the Argentinian director Lisandro Alonso. Due to a remarkably minimalist and contemplative style, as well as the foregrounding of ‘time’ and ‘duration’ rather than ‘action’ and ‘motion’, his films are most often labeled as ‘slow cinema’. Almost all of his feature films portray the solitary quests of taciturn men through rough and desolate landscapes, and contain very little dialogue and contextual information. Just like the travels of Alonso’s protagonists, writing and completing my thesis proved to be an arduous and challenging, yet also stimulating and rewarding journey. As a final farewell to this intellectual labour, I have created a sort of belated foreword to my thesis in the form of an erasure poem. Based on the director’s note accompanying the DVD of Alonso’s great film Liverpool (2008), in this poem I’ve incorporated reflections on my general fascination for film directors, my thesis process, my interest in Alonso’s characters, and my curiosity for the cinematic medium.
If you ask me who my favorite author is, I would have to say Melina Marchetta. I have only discovered her books this year, but to me, Marchetta’s novels are like nothing else I have ever read. There is something about her stories, about the way she describes people and relationships and communities that just blows my mind with each novel I read. This particular poem I created from the second page of the second chapter in Jellicoe Road (2010), for no reason other than that it was the first full page in the novel. And yet, surprisingly enough, I feel like this particular page happens to capture the main feeling of the story. The book actually tells two different stories that interact and interchange as the plot progresses, and both stories are a little bit melancholic and a little bit bittersweet. The theme of belonging (“Belong. Long to be.”) is probably the most important aspect of the book and that’s what I wanted this poem to focus on.
A couple of weeks ago, I read the short story Traumnovelle for an elective course on the various interplays between literature and film. Also known as Dream Story, this novella was written in 1926 by the Austrian Arthur Schnitzler, a kindred spirit of Sigmund Freud. In 1999, the acclaimed director Stanley Kubrick turned Schnitzler’s book into a film called Eyes Wide Shut. In what turned out to be Kubrick’s final film, former Hollywood lovers Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman give an electrifying metaperformance by portraying a distinguished, yet troubled married couple. The entire story can be understood as an exploration of the human psyche’s hidden corners, where an abundance of erotic fantasies can be found. My erasure poem is based on one of the book’s last pages, describing a final confession scene in which the main characters try to come to terms with each other’s guilty conscience.
As you may have read in our 25th issue, I am dealing with the affliction that is called “I Cannot Seem To Get Through Wuthering Heights” (noteworthy: some of my friends shame me terribly because of this). As I will be attempting to read the Brontë sister’s novel for the fourth time this summer, I thought deflecting some aggression while also making a poem might give me the courage needed. Wish me luck, and enjoy this excerpt from Wuthering Heights turned Erasure Poem.
A while ago I shared an erasure poem with you that I made with a page from a book I thoroughly enjoyed. This poem is not at all a consequence of love, but of utter confusion. I don’t think I ever took longer to read a single page before I was assigned to read this (deceitfully short) essay by Jean Baudrillard for a philosophy of science course. Five pages of puzzling theories about the inflation of information and the (possibly consequential) deflation of meaning, simulacra and simulations, that were frustrating to read and thus very enjoyable to efface with the strokes of a black marker.
The full text of Baudrillard’s “The Implosion of Meaning in the Media” from Simulacra and Simulations can be read here.
I don’t consider myself a particularly good poet, so erasure poetry is not something I ever thought I would be doing. Still, I ended up loving the challenge. The poem is put together from words on page 13 (I didn’t actually think of how fitting this page number is until I sat down to write this passage) of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (2006). It’s a novel about Nazi Germany (narrated by Death itself) that perfectly shows the immense terror of that time. Since the novel is quite dark and haunting, that is something I wanted to portray with the poem as well. Although I scanned the page because I couldn’t bear to actually cross out words in a physical book. The horror!