NaPoWriMo 2016 FPR Impromptu #9 What We Carry with Us



Today’s IMPROMPTU prompt comes from Frank Montesonti:

“Find an erasure text from a usual source – the book rack at Goodwill, a newspaper, an old manual. When you approach the erasure text, however, don’t think that you are trying to uncover just one voice. Think in terms of creating a dialogue. Highlight some phrases or words in one color, then feel if there might be a response to those words somewhere else in the text. How many voices do you hear in the text? Two, three? If so, highlight them each in their own color. What is the conversation that is happening between the colors and in the text?

There might also be places where you feel the two voices overlap. In this case, since you are using primary colors, if you highlight the same words in two different primary colors, they create a new color, a secondary color representing a choral aspect of the erasure.

A fun aspect of this activity is that it can collaborative. Two or more poets can work on the same erasure project by handing a book back and forth and creating a conversation.”

For more about Frank Montesonti, and to view the whole post:


Here is the poem that emerged, each voice shown in its own  style:


What We Carry with Us


Bear witness.  We carry our own pain.
Hatred of the body is deep. Distrust
the process.

Experience the pain of women
consciousness going backward,
denial peeled away.

 you’re so tired. lie down.


 My tiredness profound,
I felt how good I was
at pushing down tears.

don’t ask for light.

And I wept for myself,
for my mother, for the endless grief
of losing two children.

 I felt my grandmother’s grief,
her mother died in childbirth
wailing for all women,
not my pain but the pain.


 I knew why I was on earth.
There are no mistakes, no other path,
no words beyond reason.
The veil between is thin.


Carol A. Stephen
April 9, 2016


My source text is the book, Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom by Christiane Northrup, M.D. ©1994 from Bantam Books. pp. 640-641



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