Litzine, Katie Borak, 40 pgs, Antiquated Future, antiquatedfuture.com, $8
Erasure poems are a type of found poetry, an appropriative practice in literature of taking a text and deconstructing it to build a new text. Katie Borak’s Range brings this practice to a classic of American Western literature. The result is a work exploring traditional relationships through a queer lens that draws the reader to examine and reconsider the subtextual intimacy of the conventionally masculine characters of genre literature.
Subtitled “a queering of Louie L’Amour’s Lonely On The Mountain”, Range picks out individual words and phrases of L’Amour’s novel and leaves them behind on the page to tell a spare but rich story, teasing out a poetic ramble that is both lush and taciturn. There are moments that call back to the setting, grounding us firmly in the world of the original text (“roving / the goldfields / chewing them up spitting them out”), while other sections delve into the more erotic (“We stop for nothing / once we start/bound an’ determined to / play / as men do”), taking common exchanges and elevating it into something more sensual.
Visually, Range plays with the aesthetic of vintage paperbacks; faded words on yellowed paper scatter across the page, dotting the dusty space like tumbleweeds across the Western desert the story evokes. Simple line drawings are scattered throughout, complementing the spareness of the text. Range is an effective and evocative series of poems on its own, while also bringing new light and perspective to the original text in a way that is deeply modern while feeling timeless.