The Deletionist

While exploring N + 7, Lipogram, and other instant-deconstructionist devices, I came upon another tool for creating “instant e-literature.” There is an interesting tool called “the Deletionist” which automatically creates an erasure poem by “removing text to uncover poems.” You add it to your bookmarks tab, and whenever you are on a webpage where you wish to create an erasure poem, it will white out a majority of the words for you. A Wikipedia paragraph on the artist Prince’s early life boils down to “Nelson named name named nickname not name.” It actually seemed to have a strange preference for words beginning with the letter “n,” as another paragraph became “never needed Night noted notes name number next new number new new never named new new new nights,” and so on. The same words are left behind on repeated use, giving you a much more permanent poem.

I looked up some lyrics to the song “Don’t Swallow the Cap” by the National, and each site created a different poem. One page focused on monosyllabic words, while another chose to only focus on the words in the comment section and almost dismiss the song’s lyrics entirely. The tool is very stern on which words it will keep on each page, but a site with comments or advertisements can alter the way the Deletionist creates electronic literature. Even though the song “Don’t Swallow the Cap” is the focus of the reader, the Deletionist decides what becomes part of the primary source and may decide that the spam advertisement for “seven easy ways to erase all debt and learn the guitar at the same time” has more potential for art.

An erasure poem of the lyrics to the song “Don’t Swallow the Cap” hosted on, created through the Deletionist tool.


Looking at instant tools for electronic literature like N+7 and the Deletionist are important to our understanding of how elit works. We can all become artists, and while the bot consistently deletes the same word on each page, does our choice of which page hold more weight than which words are erased? Could you go into a comments section of a page and create an interesting enough series of words that the tool creates a new poem with your guidance? The most interesting implication is that literature can be created through all things. Just as all writing is political (e.g. your grocery list: are you supporting green companies? Are you avoiding companies based on ownership?), all writing can become literature. Try using it on this article, on any article. The class’ Google Document currently only focuses on the letter “o” and the next immediate word. Will it change by the end of the semester, or has it decided that “o <word>” is the best formula for that particular erasure poem?

o Engl 376 Google Doc

  5 comments for “The Deletionist

  1. star
    February 17, 2014 at 8:16 pm

    I agree, not only does it deconstruct the initial literature and create a new piece of work it also forms an image that can be interpreted as apart of the new creation. I navigated through “The Deletionist” and chose the lyrics to Lorde “Royals”. The new piece of work transformed the original lyrics into a “feeling” more than a singular thought. “We crave, and baby rule, fantasy”. I see the same thing is created in your peices. “o destory, o unrealistic, o the extreme”. It is daunting to come to this conclusion but it seems once again technology is able to display and evoke emotion from its audience similar to how an artist would.

  2. February 22, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    I feel this is the most appropriate response to your blog entry:

  3. scolliga
    February 24, 2014 at 12:21 am

    This is excellent, mostly because of its play with text. I’m a huge fan of this in digital poetry, mostly because “play with text” applies to the arrangement of the literal letters and word placement and the meaning of the piece. I’m also all about finding texts within pieces of what might be called “unartistic” text, much like what Gysin did with his rearrangement of newspaper articles.

  4. kmunnis
    February 24, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    The Deletionist seems to challenge literary art by saying that just anyone can do it and it can be created from all things. “Does our choice of which page hold more weight than which words are erased?” That really got me thinking about the distinction between what is just “good” deconstruction elit and what is “great.” For instance anyone can use – a camera for instance to take a good photo, however we don’t say that professional photographers are only good at what they do because they “have a good camera.” Artists are recognized by their content and composition and how they use their equipment. That is the analogy that comes to mind, but I like how the Deletionist makes the deconstruction methodology more accessible to anyone interested in that approach!

  5. Mary
    March 17, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    I think “the deletionist” is, to an extent, mocking how everyone thinks they’re a poet these days. It’s effective, but at the same time is poetry because it’s playing with text and rhythm depending on what page you use. I used Beyonce’s classic “Irreplaceable” and ran it on two different sites. I think it’s really interesting how it didn’t really mess with the meaning of the song, but that’s probably because it’s so repetitive.

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