Erasures of Star-Spangled Banner & Lift Every Voice
By Mentee Mary Massaquoi
These pieces are erasures of The Star-Spangled Banner and Lift Every Voice and Sing, the national black anthem. My mentor gave me prompts to erase both of them, side by side, after noticing the differences between them. The words I kept in The Star-Spangled Banner are a depiction of the United States right now, and the words in Lift Every Voice are words of hope. Erasures were foreign to me—I didn’t know anything about the form before Girls Write Now, and I found joy in trying out a new genre.
This project was inspired by a writing prompt. I used Canva and learned more graphic design skills, but also built on my poetry craft skills. One of the challenges with erasures is using words that were already written and having to find my own voice within theirs. After completing the project, I felt empowered and was encouraged to try more erasures.
Years as Mentee: 1
Born: Staten Island, NY
Lives: Staten Island, NY
Mentee’s Anecdote: When I was accepted to Girls Write Now I remember thinking to myself “I would like someone to look up to.” I wanted someone to admire. Meeting my Mentor proved to fulfill my wishes. Every week we met I became more grateful for this program because of my mentor and the opportunities it held. We also shared our achievements and experiences with each other. One thing that brought us close, among many, was a Poetry Slam she invited me to. It was our first meeting that wasn’t formal. We met at this beautiful art institution. The event combined both of the things we loved: Music and Writing. From that day I realized we were extremely similar though we were in two different places in life.
Years as Mentor: 1
Occupation: Development & Marketing Assistant, Poets & Writers
Born: Indianapolis, IN
Lives: Brooklyn, NY
Publications and Recognitions: Essays in Shondaland and Catapult, poem in BOOTH
Mentor’s Anecdote: My mentee and I are so alike it’s almost scary. I was worried that my mentee and I would be vastly different, but we have so many of the same interests. One of my favorite parts about our sessions is that we can talk about music and TV shows and movies, some that I’ve never heard of and some that she’s never heard of. But we always listen to each other. One of the most fun parts, though, is reading the work of black women together. Somehow, there’s a lineage being created. We read black women poets and authors who have unfortunately passed away, or we read poets/authors who are further than we are, and then we read each other’s work. That’s where we take our place in history. We learn from the women before us, and write in their tradition.