Jenni B. Baker is creating her own poetry by erasing words from pages of David Foster Wallace’s classic novel Infinite Jest.
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.
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.”
3. “Working through Infinite Jest provides an extended opportunity to work through the grief I feel over his passing,” Baker told BuzzFeed.
4. “Some poems are direct responses to Wallace’s life and work; others are instances in which I find myself in.”
5. Baker has read the novel before and considers herself to be a huge fan.
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.
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.”
8. The poet also explained that since the novel is so long, there are more opportunities for “found poetry.”
9. “Wallace deploys a large cadre of narrators and characters who each speak with a unique voice and vocabulary,” Baker told BuzzFeed.
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.”
11. Baker also discussed the process behind creating her poems for Erasing Infinite.
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.
13. “There’s never a dull moment.”
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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