Jennifer Hernandez created “Inductance” from John Mills’ Letters of a Radio-Engineer to His Son (1922). Please click here to read.

About the poem and the process of composing it, Jennifer Hernandez writes:

For me, blackout poetry is a form of liberation. Instead of starting with a blank slate and feeling the pressure to fill it with words, I start with a slate of words and excavate those that resonate, discovering the poem as I chisel away at the text. My experience has been that the most utilitarian source texts—manuals, guides, encyclopedia entries—often yield the most interesting poems. I have an intuitive approach. In this case, I scanned the table of contents of John Mills’ Letters of a Radio-Engineer to His Son and chose the chapter with the title that most pleased my palate upon speaking it aloud—“Inductance and Capacity.” Next, I copy-and-pasted the first page of the text into Microsoft Word and printed it out. I prefer the feel of paper and pen for first drafts of all kinds. At this point, I skimmed through the text, forcing myself to read not for comprehension, but only to circle the most interesting words and phrases that emerged from the text. Quickly, it became apparent that this text painted a picture that operates on multiple levels. What fun to discover! Finally, I returned to the Microsoft Word document and blacked out the remainder of the text, making small revisions of my original word choices and watching the poem take shape on the page. The art of blackout poetry adds another dimension, almost a sculptural quality.