One Writer Is Creating Her Own Poetry By Erasing Words From Pages Of “Infinite Jest”

“Some poems are direct responses to Wallace’s life and work; others are instances in which I find myself in.”

Jenni B. Baker is creating her own poetry by erasing words from pages of David Foster Wallace’s classic novel Infinite Jest.

Courtesy Jenni Baker

Baker, who started working on the project in 2013, told BuzzFeed she was inspired to do this project as a coping mechanism after the author died.

Here at 13 of the poems Baker shared with us:

1. “Partway through Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace writes, ‘It’s weird to feel like you miss someone you’re not even sure you know,’” she said.

Courtesy Jenni B. Baker

2. “Following Wallace’s death in 2008, those of us who found meaning in his work were suddenly confronted with this enormous loss; I grappled with how to make something out of his absence for several years.”

Courtesy Jenni B. Baker

3. “Working through Infinite Jest provides an extended opportunity to work through the grief I feel over his passing,” Baker told BuzzFeed.

Courtesy Jenni B. Baker

4. “Some poems are direct responses to Wallace’s life and work; others are instances in which I find myself in.”

Courtesy Jenni B. Baker

5. Baker has read the novel before and considers herself to be a huge fan.

Courtesy Jenni B. Baker

6. “On one end, you have the Wallace devotees who congregate on the Wallace-I email list and Howling Fantods site. On the other, you have those who don’t get it and don’t care,” she said.

Courtesy Jenni B. Baker

7. “I’ve read the book and loved it, but try to count myself among the first group I mentioned — those who talk obsessively about Wallace and Infinite Jest among like-minded friends, but who don’t pester others too much about it.”

Courtesy Jenni B. Baker

8. The poet also explained that since the novel is so long, there are more opportunities for “found poetry.”

Courtesy Jenni B. Baker

9. “Wallace deploys a large cadre of narrators and characters who each speak with a unique voice and vocabulary,” Baker told BuzzFeed.

Courtesy Jenni B. Baker

10. “This makes the text a rich source for found poetry in a way that longer novels by traditional authors — think Charles Dickens or John Steinbeck – aren’t.”

Courtesy Jenni B. Baker

11. Baker also discussed the process behind creating her poems for Erasing Infinite.

Courtesy Jenni B. Baker

12. “With every chapter, I start with a new word bank and set of expressions that lend diversity and novelty to the poems I create,” she said.

Courtesy Jenni B. Baker

13. “There’s never a dull moment.”

Courtesy Jenni B. Baker

You can check out more about Jenni B. Baker’s project and other writing on her website.

And read her blog post about Erasing Infinite on HuffPost Books, where BuzzFeed originally learned about the project.

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