Sentimentalized Failure

I did this new thing recently. They call it erasure poetry. I call it a back door into writing.

Either way, I was inspired to give it a go because I was listening to this podcast in which Jeff Goins riffs on mix tapes, creation v. curation, etc. It got me thinking about how it’s ok to admit how every creative thing we do is borrowing from someone else. As artists and writers, we’re all in this big conversation together.

So I took this amazing poem from Sophia Stid and started having my own kind of conversation with it. Here’s how it came out:

In case you have a hard time seeing the image above, here are the words I borrowed (shamelessly) from Sophia to create my own thing:

Sentimentalized Failure

You know the map

I don’t want to see. I get lost,

dig out the map and unfurl it against the steering wheel.

At some point

everything is a reckoning.

I loved. I laughed. I had no idea

I had to show up.

I wanted someone to say,

Oh, you’re doing such a good job.

The shame,

my endless lack,

the churning herd of wild horse I called

my sense of self.


That was my part of the conversation. But like all great dialog, there’s always one more word to be said. When I flipped over the page and read to the end of Sophia’s poem, I got this incredible reply:

If you want a reckoning, love someone for a long time.

There’s never been a map. At the end of the metaphor

is a gap that hurts to look at. Look anyway. Our reckoning

is here, and you know the only kind of reckoning I trust

ends in more love. 


To close the loop, I sent my erasure to Jeff (along with a link to Sophia’s poem), just to say, “Hey, you inspired a thing.” Little did I expect the conversation to continue, but lo and behold, Jeff decided to share it in his latest newsletter.

And the beat goes on. Keep making, artists. Keep writing, poets. Keep sharing, creatives. You never know who might have the next word.

9 Replies to “Sentimentalized Failure”

  1. What a terrific erasure! I wish this form of poetry wasn’t called that … subtraction is also addition, you know? And that act makes the former thing new.

  2. “…it’s ok to admit how every creative thing we do is borrowing from someone else. As artists and writers, we’re all in this big conversation together.” You’ve beautifully summed up the premise of “found poetry”, Kelly! And I heartily agree that there is a sense of conversation, of collaboration at a distance. When you’re creating something new from something someone else did, you’re never alone. 🙂

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