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A Little White Shadow by Mary Ruefle

A Little White Shadow

by Mary Ruefle

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Loves me some erasure. And also Mary Ruefle. So we're really good here. ( )
  beckydj | Aug 23, 2013 |
I found this unique little book, while I was scanning the poetry section of the library. The book was so small and so cute, with its plain clean cover, that I just had to take it with me.

Inside, A Little White Shadow is something of a mystery. In the tradition of found poetry, Rueffle has taken a document, called "A Little White Shadow" (which was apparently created in honor of a children's shelter in the late 1800s), and has whited out all of the text, except for a few phrases on each page. (It's not really clear whether the original text was in fact original, or if it was fabricated, but in the end it doesn't really matter.) The entire book is a single poem, created from the clips and phrases that have survived the whiting out.

Typically a found poem will use only words from an original document, which are then rearranged and collaged onto a new clean sheet of paper. By leaving the original text, Rueffle creates an entirely different feeling. We know the text is absent, and we feel its absence floating in our mind as we read what's left behind. The absence of the whited out text is a physical part of the poem. Some letters and words peek through like ghosts themselves.

The words that we can read manage to flow from one slightly disjointed image and thought to the next. There are genuinely beautiful lines that come through with a word at the top of the page joining and combining with a phrase at the bottom through the act of reading (we the readers are the glue that holds it together), and it's beautiful. Sometimes words and phrases on the page can be read in different ways, sometimes it's crystal clear. This book offers multi-levels of interpretation and meaning, and by not including any explanation, Rueffle leaves the reader to discover those meanings on their own.

I am deeply fascinated by this book. It's one of those creative choices on the part of a poet that I consider brilliant, almost genius. It's the kind of beauty that makes me jealous to have not thought of it myself, knowing that no replication can achieve the same. I only wish I didn't have to send it back to the library.

You can see more of this kind of work at her website: http://www.maryruefle.com/ ( )
  andreablythe | Apr 22, 2010 |
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