Jacqueline DesForges

For Breonna #1 (Text from Breonna’s Law) from the Missing series
paper and paint on canvas
20 x 26 in.

As a writer and an artist, I’m interested in the visual appearance of words on a page or a canvas — not only what they say, but how they’re arranged. My “Missing” series is a collection of erasure poems dedicated to specific women (like Ana Mendieta, Breonna Taylor, and Amy Bradley) who are currently missing from global conversations, communities, and/or historical texts either because they have literally gone missing, or because they died of unnatural and tragic causes. My source materials include newspaper and magazine articles, written laws, phone call transcripts, and any other documents where the woman is theoretically the subject and yet appears in the document more as an object.

The erasure poems allow me to write the women back into these documents by erasing any irrelevant, incorrect, offensive, or otherwise unnecessary information so that the women can be centered in the conversation. In this particular piece for Breonna Taylor, my source material is the text of Breonna’s Law, or the law that bans no-knock search warrants. I didn’t feel that the passing of this law was nearly enough to secure justice for Breonna and her family. It was the bare minimum. Since the law text doesn’t mention Breonna or her murder at all, I used the erasure poem strategy to write her back into the text, and I focused on the rhythm of the word “no,” which was repeated dozens of times throughout the text. The jarring line breaks and fractured format of the poem further emphasize the broken system of justice in this country, and the fact that we are still so far from achieving any justice or equality for the Black community. I’m voting for a lot of things this year, but the primary reason is to eject this racist and sociopathic administration from office.

no specific knock
to know no-
No purpose
no takers
no no-knock Section
no knock
warrants murder.
no warrant for
or why
or daylight
or time
no number of no-knock warrants
no executing officer
no authority
no breech
no control
no longer.”

artist’s website

© Jacqueline DesForges