this artist creates powerful erasure poems from sexual predators' apologies

Isobel O'Hare is blacking out the B.S. and letting Hollywood harassment victims be heard.

by Hannah Ongley
15 November 2017, 10:23pm


It’s becoming difficult to keep up with the Hollywood sexual harassment allegations, especially if you've huffed and eye-rolled your way through each male perpetrator's unnecessarily long-winded apology. Harvey Weinstein spoke of “coming of age in the 60s and 70s” and (mis)quoted Jay-Z. Kevin Spacey conflated homosexuality and pedophilia by coming out as gay. Bill O’Reilly wants The New York Times to think of his children. Louis C.K. could have stopped at “These stories are true,” but veered into a self-congratulatory essay about much women admire his dick.

Luckily, Isobel O’Hare is here to “fix” the apologies. The New Mexico-based poet is printing out statements from alleged sexual predators and blacking out the bullshit, turning apologies into powerful erasure poems. By removing the self-improvement proposals and demands for second chances, O'Hare also makes room for the voices of victims. C.K.’s apology becomes, “my dick / wielded / power irresponsibly,” and in another version, “my dick / has / given me / a / long and lucky career.” Kevin Spacey's tweet reads simply, "there are stories out there about me that have been fueled by my own behavior." Jeremy Piven’s statement is whittled down to one single question that doesn’t ask for answer: “are / women / real.”

"I want people to see what these statements are really conveying," O'Hare explained to Mashable, "which I think is a very male narcissism that demands constant attention, praise, and forgiveness. I hope that the form of erasure itself draws attention to the fact that these men have in fact erased the voices of their victims, for many years, some very deliberately and litigiously."

The brevity of O’Hare’s striking poems also reveal what was missing from any of these apologies. Often, men accused of sexual misconduct have attempted to silence their victims with settlement agreements and confidentiality clauses. Those admissions would be worth keeping, but so far, none have been offered.

sexual assault
jesse lacey
louis ck
isobel o'hare