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A Collage or Mosaic: A Form for Writing and Healing

Posted on Dec 3, 2006 by

In A Community of Writers, this a textbook for writing students, Peter Elbow and Pat Belanoff offer a definition of a written collage:

A ‘collage’, in the original sense, as used by artists, is a picture produced not by painting or drawing but by pasting actual objects on the canvas—objects such as theater tickets, bits of colored paper or cardboard or metal. A written collage consists of separate, disconnected bits of writing rather than one continuous piece. Usually there are spaces or asterisks at the ‘joints’ between the pieces of writing.

I like the word mosaic for this form. The image comes closer to what I see when I look at a written collage. In a collage the fragments often overlap—a ticket, for instance, overlaps a piece of colored paper. But in a written collage, like a mosaic, there’s no actual overlap. There’s white space—the mortar. The white space both separates the pieces, and holds them together.