We all have our own ways of handling a news cycle that seems to exclusively consist of men being accused of sexual misconduct. There are two waves: the allegations, and then the apologies. Or, the pseudo-apologies released by accused celebrities in hopes of salvaging their careers without taking any real responsibility for their actions. It's these types of statements in particular that drove Isobel O'Hare to create the erasure poems that are currently taking over Twitter and Instagram.
"The idea came from this feeling I've been sitting with (that a lot of us have been sitting with) of being triggered and overwhelmed by the constant barrage of new reports of abuse, which are heart-wrenching, followed by hollow PR statements from the accused that seem more self-pitying and deflective than remorseful," O'Hare, who got her MFA in poetry in 2015 and is currently studying to be an herbalist, told Refinery29.
Each poem starts with the full statement issued by a celebrity that O'Hare then blocks out and rearranges, boiling it down to its poetic essence.
"I think of poems as spells, and the foundation of a spell is the desire for transformation. In making these erasures, I try to bring to light what is really happening in these statements," she explained.
She noticed that each statement had its own agenda, be that blaming society and culture for their actions, or asking for second chances now that their behavior has been exposed. No matter what, O'Hare doesn't believe we should take any of them at face value.
"My hope is that the spell of the erasure [will] lift the veil of PR language and show people what is really being asked of them, or communicated to them, through these statements," she said.
Ahead, take a look at Hare's most poignant poems and how she's taking back the power during this debilitating time in history.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
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