Poetry. Writerly Advice. Memoir. Literary Analysis. Book Reviews. Serious Snark.
Covered up. That’s what happened to the name of the original author of The Mansion. Mary Ruefle seems to care little for the previous author, shamelessly taking the book as her own by erasing the original text and everything else that once made it Henry Von Dyke’s book. That is, until you dive into Ruefle’s heavy-handed process of creating something new from something borrowed:
Everyone knows that I can afford to live/ in/a text
The formation of immortality surfaces through the erasure, for both Ruefle and Von Dyke. The omission of the original text under whiteout quiets the pages and allows new meaning to come alive through what remains seen.
Erasures, the poetic act of deletion, censure and hiding what once was, is an art form Ruefle has claimed as her true form. In the act of erasing, Ruefle manages to open the book up, breathe into it new energy, and give it an audience it didn’t have before Ruefle hid the contents away from our sight.
Not only does Ruefle cover up the text with white out, she affixes images, “stickers” and other visual layers to the top of the pages. Through erasure, she writes:
Using you as an illustration
We see Ruefle surface in this line with the vague ‘you’ often seen in the bulk of her poems. She calls out to a 'you’ to serve as a piece of the erasure. The line is followed by a photo of a large, hairy spider glued over the remaining text on the page. As The Mansion progresses, Ruefle begins to use varying graphics to add a new element to the poetry.
The book becomes a multidimensional art piece that relies on Von Dyke’s words, Ruefle’s poetics, and visual collage. As it seems, Ruefle isn’t erasing Von Dyke; rather she is collaborating with him.
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