(de)fine (poe)try project: O(bserve)

by Alisa Golden

act-zephyr_FINE_TRYAuthor’s Note: The (de)fine (poe)try project began with an iPhone app called “Address Booklet and Cards.” The app is meant to turn your contact list into a printable, foldable little booklet or stack of clipped cards. For letterpress printers and bookmakers, the alphabet book is always a lure, and so I was compelled to create an a-z contact list from one-word titles. The poems were made under the constraint that I could only use words found in dictionary definitions and in the order they occurred. I tried to pick words with long definitions: a storehouse of potential meaning for the poems.

But these poems were actually erasures, compressed poems made by gleaning from a longer text. I wanted to see all that text and make the reading more visually interesting. Scouring the dictionary again, this time without using the app, I typed, adapted, and edited the definitions, left the words in order, and featured the words of each poem in bold red type. I adjusted the line lengths for rhythm. Now, the viewer could both read the poem and see where it came from. And so, the twenty-six poems of (de)fine (poe)try were born.

[Editor’s Note: Matter Press will be publishing twenty-six (26) adapted erasure poems from “act” to “zephyr” that are part of the (de)fine (poe)try project series, one a week, for 26 weeks. 15 of 26]

Click on the image below to view it full-size.


Alisa Golden writes, makes art, and teaches bookmaking at California College of the Arts in Oakland. She is a letterpress printer and printmaker who works under the imprint, never mind the press. Most days she takes photos of objects she finds on the sidewalk; some days she draws, paints, or makes felt. Her stories, poems, and essays have been published in several magazines including 100 Word Story, The Monthly, NANO Fiction, Safety Pin Review, and Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine (UK), among others. She is the author of Making Handmade Books and the editor of Star 82 Review. www.neverbook.com


Congrats to Christopher Allen for having a work from HOUSEHOLD TOXINS being chosen to appear in BSF 2019 from Sonder Press.

Check out the write-up of the journal in The Writer.

New titles available from Robert McBrearty and Tori Bond.


Poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction/prose poetry submissions are now CLOSED. Check out our new category triptychs! The submission period next opens March 15, 2020; submit here.


02/17 • Madison Frazier
02/19 • Gail Geopfert
02/20 • Maureen Alsop (8 of 12)
02/24 • Kenneth Pobo
02/26 • Miranda Campbell
02/27 • Maureen Alsop (9 of 12)
03/04 • John Meyers
03/05 • Maureen Alsop (10 of 12)
03/09 • Grant Faulkner
03/11 • Maureen Alsop
03/12 • Maureen Alsop (11 of 12)
03/16 • Tara Laskowski
03/05 • Maureen Alsop (12 of 12)
03/23 • Kim Chinquee
03/25 • Lucinda Kempe