Redaction and Compression

We have experienced (or not) several examples of redaction during the latest previous American Administration. Documents lost, withdrawn, changed or redacted. One fun way to experience this is to select a one paragraph piece (or any micro or short poem). If you need help, use 100 Word Story, an online journal or Blink Ink. Or select one of your own paragraph pieces. Print a copy of any piece. (If you are lost, I have this bizarro piece up at Paragraph Planet, “You took My Fingerprints And Winked:”

You’re as loose as a vacant freeway. I never told you about the busted vase, those electronic window visors opening and closing. You think I still get off on pain. I understand now why the continent went up in smoke, the only vaporous doors left standing were the locked ones. You jumped into the East River that balmy Sunday, even when I begged you not to. I want to love something. Someone without apology, without injury. Lately, when I glance skyward, all I can see is Mexico.

Choose your own template- redact (black out) one word per line. Or every eighth word, or every word that begins with an N or a P. (Make up your own “key.”) The goal is to excise without thinking about how the words left will “read” or if they make sense (or not).

William Burroughs, known for his reduction techniques: “The only possible ethic is to do what one wants to do.”

Toni Morrison: “If you want to fly, you have to give up the things that weigh you down.”


Here is another magical example of this, Kim Magowan at Okay Donkey:


And here is Amy Hempel’s one sentence “Housewife” from Biblioklept:

She would always sleep with her husband and with another man in the course of the same day, and then the rest of the day, for whatever was left to her of that day, she would exploit by incanting, “French film, French film.”

Deb Olin Unferth’s “Likable” from NOON:

Jayy Dodd’s “Inaugural Poem for [REDACTED]” at Lit Hub:

And Carmen Gimenez Smith’s “Redaction” at