Tom Phillips’ postmodern technique is not new, but it is postmodern. One of my favorite works of this technique–appropriately named erasure–is by Jen Bervin. Her work takes Shakespeare’s sonnets and strips them down to just Nets. Her technique is very similar to a new take on the trend– black out poetry.

In fact there is a whole Instagram account dedicated to the art. @makeblackoutpoetry showcases some of the latest works. These are more similar to Phillips’ work with the art worked into the background.

I used this technique with middle school students this summer. The results were intriguing and do not take that much skill to be creative. I guess in Phillips’ case there is more thought involved in order to write an entire novel. But the art in itself? Interesting, but about as impressive as high-low technology.


  1. I went and looked at Jen Bervin’s website, which contained an HTML sample of works from “Nets”, called Web Conjunctions. It de-erased the works, so that if your cursor wasn’t hovering over the poem, you can see the faint words of the original sonnet, but if you focused the mouse on the poem, only the net remained. I think the additional though is very impressive, merging context with this new, appropriated text.

  2. I wanted to also add a bit to the discussion as the title of this post caught my attention. There is actually a theory of the word “erasure” that Derrida uses in some of his deconstruction works. The idea is that words are crossed off and by doing so, invokes some kind of philosophical alteration to what the word means/implies. I could not remember too much about this as I read this a LONG time ago, but I think it is definitely something to look at especially when we are, seemly, looking at a big erasure project.

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