Archives for posts with tag: Herman Melville

Moby-Dick Erasure Poem
by Thomas R. Thomas


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Thomas R. Thomas was born in Los Angeles and grew up in the San Gabriel Valley west of LA. Currently, he lives in Long Beach, California. For his day job, he is a software QA Analyst. He volunteers for Tebot Bach, a community poetry organization, in Huntington Beach. Thomas has been published in Don’t Blame the Ugly Mug: 10 Years of 2 Idiots Peddling Poetry, Creepy Gnome, Carnival, Pipe Dream, Bank Heavy Press, Conceit Magazine, Electric Windmill & Marco Polo, and the Silver Birch Press Summer Anthology. In November 2012, Carnival released his eChapbook, Scorpio, and Washing Machine Press released a chapbooklette calledTanka. In 2013, World Parade Books will publish a book of his poetry. Visit his website at

Image CAPTION: “I got tired of Moby-Dick taunting me from my bookshelf, so I put it on my Kindle and haven’t thought of it since.”

CREDIT: New Yorker cartoon by WIlliam Haefeli, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED — prints for sale at

“To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be that have tried it.” HERMAN MELVILLE, author of Moby-Dick

Illustration: First line of Moby-Dick (1851)



“I happened to pick up Moby Dick, and I haven’t thought about Melville ten times in the last thirty years. Picked up the first page of Moby Dick and read it, and I realized my style was formed by Melville. I’m not saying that I write as well as Melville, but my style was absolutely shaped by his love of long, rolling sentences that contain inversions and reverses and paradoxes and ironies and exclamation points and dashes.” NORMAN MAILER, from a 1990 interview published in Esquire

Yesterday (August 1st), we celebrated Herman Melville‘s 194th birthday with a few Moby-Dick erasure poems. We continue exploring all-things-Melville today by taking a look at Moby Dick, the 1956 movie directed by John Huston — with a screenplay by Huston and Ray Bradbury.

In a 2010 interview in The Paris Review, Bradbury offers some fascinating background about how he developed the script. Here is an excerpt…

INTERVIEWER: Why did you do Moby Dick?

BRADBURY: …he [Huston] called me up and said, Do you have some time to come to Europe and write Moby-Dick for the screen? I said, I don’t know, I’ve never been able to read the damn thing…I’ve had copies of Moby-Dick around the house for years. So I went home and I read Moby-Dick…I dove into the middle of it instead of starting at the beginning. I came across a lot of beautiful poetry about the whiteness of the whale and the colors of nightmares and the great spirit’s spout. And I came upon a section toward the end where Ahab stands at the rail and says: “It is a mild, mild wind, and a mild looking sky; and the air smells now, as if it blew from a far-away meadow; they have been making hay somewhere under the slopes of the Andes, Starbuck, and the mowers are sleeping among the new-mown hay.” I turned back to the start: “Call me Ishmael.” I was in love! You fall in love with poetry. You fall in love with Shakespeare…  I was able to do the job not because I was in love with Melville, but because I was in love with Shakespeare. Shakespeare wrote Moby-Dick, using Melville as a Ouija board.

…read Sam Weller‘s 2010 Paris Review interview with Ray Bradbury at



Moby-Dick Erasure Poem

by Thomas R. Thomas


We celebrate Herman Melville’s 194th birthday today with an erasure poem based on the opening page of Melville’s masterwork, Moby-Dick, courtesy of source material and erasure software at Wave Books.

Erasure Poem by Silver Birch Press
In honor of the mighty Melville’s birthday, we invite our readers to create their own Moby-Dick-inspired erasure poems and email them to We promise to post your creations! Get started at this link.


ABOUT HERMAN MELVILLE:  Herman Melville (August 1, 1819 – September 28, 1891) was an American writer best known for the novel Moby-Dick. His first three books gained contemporary attention (the first, Typee, became a bestseller), but after literary success in the late 1840s, his popularity declined in the mid-1850s and never recovered during his lifetime. When he died in 1891, he was almost completely forgotten. It was not until the “Melville Revival” in the early 20th century that his work won recognition, especially Moby-Dick, which was hailed as one of the literary masterpieces of both American and world literature. He was the first writer to have his works collected and published by the Library of America. (Read more at

We are pleased to post the third submission in our call for erasure poems, created with software at Clint Margrave turned to Herman Mellville‘s classic novel — and Margrave’s favorite — Moby Dick (1851) for source material. (Find the original text here.) The title of the poem (“Loomings”) is also the title of the first chapter of Moby Dick.


Erasure poem by Clint Margrave


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Clint Margrave lives in Long Beach, California. His first full-length collection of poems, The Early Death of Men, is newly released from NYQ Books. His work has also appeared or is forthcoming in The New York Quarterly, Rattle, Ambit (UK), 3AM (UK), Pearl, Serving House Journal, Word Riot, and Nerve Cowboy, among others. His poetry and prose are featured in the Silver Birch Press Silver Anthology (November 2012), the Silver Birch Press Green Anthology (March 2013), and the Silver Birch Press Summer Anthology (June 2013).

Download Moby Dick for free at

For a fun frolic into the world of erasure poetry, visit the wonderful Wave Books site — and create an erasure poem with ease.


Below is my humble offering (taken from MOBY DICK by Herman Melville).

MY ERASURE POEM, “Moby Money”:

Try it yourself!

Send in your erasure poems and we’ll publish them on our blog!

Happy erasing! 



Poem by Fred Voss

As he has every night for 4 months Frank is reading MOBY DICK

(a novel he has read 5 times)

to Jane before they go to sleep.

Having reached chapter 72 he reads details of how a whale is stabbed and speared

again and again at close range by laughing pipe-smoking sailors until the whale

spouts blood

and rolls over and the sailors carve up its blubber and cut off

its head

and gather whale vomit.

Frank smiles and says, “Melville’s detailing of the tools and skills of whaling

is just like what I do with the machine shop

in my poems,”

as Jane sighs and bites her fingernails.


“Frank, please stop,” Jane says. “I can’t take anymore. I can’t even swim.

We’ve got to get off the Pequod. I want romance.

I want you to read to me from MY BOOK now.”

Frank winces

and reaches for Jane’s pretty little book ELIZABEH AND PHILIP

in which he has reached chapter 2 and reads

of their royal wedding on November 20, 1947

wedding presents

rings and jewelers

wedding gown with rose-and-corn-ear-patterned lace pink carnation floral decorations

chauffeurs and royal coaches and The King’s Valet

and what the Huntley and Palmers wedding cake was made of and how much it weighed

are detailed and analyzed to Jane’s smiling anglophile delight.

Frank and Jane look at the photographs of Elizabeth and Philip standing at the

Westminster Abbey altar waving out the windows of the Cinderella carriage

smiling from the Palace balcony.

“Oh wasn’t Elizabeth beautiful! Royal weddings are so romantic!” Jane gushes

as Frank writhes and slaps shut the pretty little book

unable to take any more and eager for tomorrow night

when he can get back to the fun and pleasure of reading MOBY DICK

with tattooed-all-over shrunken-head-carrying cannibal Queequeg

and a giant Albino whale

who methodically saws off Captain Ahab’s leg and drowns sailors with a slap of its tail

and finally rams and sinks the Pequod itself in the middle of the Pacific Ocean

leaving Ishmael afloat on Queequeg’s coffin

like an orphan ready to be rescued

by the ship Rachel looking for its lost sailors.

Now what royal wedding,

dear readers,

could be more romantic

than all that?