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    Before Zachary Goldstein left Louisville a couple months ago to travel the country, the 28-year-old J-town native lived in a one-bedroom apartment above the sushi restaurant Osaka on Frankfort Avenue. He turned the half-bathroom into a darkroom for his photography, and he also created music in the apartment as the singer-guitarist-drummer in his “confessional lo-fi indie punk band” Trouble Sleeping. (In June he released the album msyoulvyou, which he likes to leave around town, sometimes in the “T” section at record stores.) “With music, I’m creating something from scratch, and there’s all these decisions to make. I freeze up in those situations,” he says. “Having some sort of limit on what I can do can be good for me.”

    So he started making “black-out” poems, also known as erasure poems. At Goodwill or the Crazy Daisy Antique Mall, he found books — Willie Nelson’s autobiography, a guide to caring for gerbils,  “a very much old-fashioned, mildly sexist book for preparing for weddings” — and set up in a coffee shop with a black Sharpie. He’ll flip to an aesthetically pleasing page — bigger typeface, space between lines, a glossy surface that the marker doesn’t penetrate instead of “thirsty” paper that allows bleed-through — and picks a word. Like “Hell.” Then he starts with the black lines. “Sometimes I’ll go over a word and realize it was a great missed opportunity and there’s no going back,” he says. Eventually, a poem emerges: “Hell set an attendance record the year country music found an audience.” The process helps him write lyrics.

    He has completed about 300 poems and has several collections, including Poems for Boys, Luv pommes, Poems for stripping paint, each featuring pages from many books. “It’s like that famous quote about sculpture,” he says. “The sculpture is already in the marble. You’re just taking away what’s not the sculpture. I’m just finding what’s in there that the author didn’t realize.”

    This originally appeared in the September 2018 issue of Louisville Magazine on page 103. To subscribe to Louisville Magazineclick here. To find us on newsstands, click here.

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    Part of "33 Reasons We Love Our Arts Scene."

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