Erasures in the Field: Women’s Book Club

Last week I hijacked a White Bear Lake-based women’s book club for an erasure poetry workshop. The group of ladies, most in their fifties, have met monthly for over 15 years, rotating between one another’s homes and on occasion gathering at a restaurant. Past books discussed include The Kite Runner, The Girl on the Train, and a biography of Eleanor Roosevelt. Next month, they will discuss a YA sci-fi fantasy novel set in Duluth.

Our host served a tasty dinner of pasta with pesto and artichoke hearts. After our plates were cleared, I set out supplies–a stack of pages torn from old books, bottles of Whiteout, and a package of Sharpies–and we tucked into the making of poetry.

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We worked for about an hour, The Beatles playing on the stereo. When coffee and dessert appeared on the table, we women synchronously looked up and capped our pens. Between bites of Bailey’s chocolate mousse we took turns sharing our poems with the group. A member of the book club who had over dinner downplayed her creativity gave a warning once again before picking up her page. Of course, she went on to read a striking poem, one that lifted the listener as though by UFO beam into the realm of celestial beings, gently returning her to planet earth at the poem’s end. Another woman had made a celebration of decadence—“eat … in prodigious quantities / ten entrees / four or five thick stalks / … it’s worth it!” prompting more than one of us to raise a dessert spoon in salute.

Thanks to ladies of the book club for the delightful company and inspiring words on a chilly winter night.

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