Erasures of a BP press release

This was an exercise for the class I’m taking – create a poem via “erasure” from an existing text – i.e., use only the words in the text, “erasing” the ones you don’t need.

The text I started with was this BP (British Petroleum) press release.

For the first one, I constrained myself to only move forward (never backward) through the original text, picking words as I went. Here’s what I came up with:


the evening the horizon died

the evening the horizon died
we deeply recognize the friends
and those who burned for hours before
the gulf was closed and sealed

the failure followed from
the subsequent initial impacts
on the livelihoods of those
we put in place to help the government

to compensate the people
and the economic tourism
we have conducted studies
and committed knowledge spills


Following some encouragement from one of the course moderators to try different constraints and be more experimental, I tried again without the “never move backward” constraint and came up with this tragicomic tale:


deepwater horizon: a lust story

and we were people, working, independent
we sought to take responsibility
involved and closed, a seal, long-term committed?
this accident does happen…capping life

the evening of the wider exploration
ignition, research, knowledge, and release
– discoverer of natural horizon! –
the fire, it burned for hours; response was full!

and ultimately…subsequent explosion
tremendous blowout, failure of control
and look: how swiftly sealed in this deepwater
assurance of regret, impact, and loss


Here’s a Google Doc I used to make sure I wasn’t cheating with the second one. 😉

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