An artist is erasing text from David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest to make poetry | books$ht-picks | Hindustan Times
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An artist is erasing text from David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest to make poetry

American poet and artist Jenni B Baker is creating erasure poetry from David Foster Wallace’s 1,079-page tome

books Updated: Jun 29, 2017 15:52 IST
Since 2013, Jenni B Baker has been erasing words, lines and whole paragraphs from the 1079-page novel to create poems.
Since 2013, Jenni B Baker has been erasing words, lines and whole paragraphs from the 1079-page novel to create poems.(Twitter)

David Foster Wallace’s 1996 magnum opus Infinite Jest, hailed as one of the great novels of the 21st century, often elicits extreme reactions from readers. The bestselling literary fiction, set around the Incandenza family in a semi-dystopian America, is – at 1,079-page novel – among the most difficult English novels to read or rather finish.

American poet and artist Jenni B Baker has created something rather unusual from Wallace’s tome: erasure poetry. Since 2013, she has been erasing words, lines and whole paragraphs from the 1079-page novel to sculpt out poems.

Infinite Jest, Page 179: “Yeah But Except So”, Page 177: “Turbulence” (erasinginfinite.com)

On her Tumblr blog, Erasing Infinite project, Baker writes that she began reading the book a year after Wallace’s suicide. “It’s strange experience, realizing you’ve finally discovered an author who can accurately translate into fiction (in Wallace’s words) “what it is to be a fucking human being” and knowing that he’ll never write again. I can only describe it as slow onset mourning – an absence I’d struggle to respond to for four years.”

Infinite Jest, Page 124: “In The Old Room”, Page 176: “Do You?” (erasinginfinite.com)

In an interview to PBS, Baker said she plans to make a poem for every page of the 1,079-page novel. Previously, she has created erasure poetry from the Boy Scouts of America Handbook, Grimm’s Household Tales, sign language dictionaries, among other texts.

You can read more of her Infinite Jest poetry here.

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