Megan Cherry

Nine Word Poem: Holy Fury Rise
text, paper, vinyl, shadowbox
8.75 x 11.25 in.

“Nine Word Poem” is a study in the inflammatory nature of words.

In the wake of the 2016 electoral storm, the visceral response to language on social media was almost unbearable. Every post and comment seemed to have the sole intention of inciting anger or anxiety. Despite the obvious fear-mongering and cheap provocation, I could not make myself look away.

Using existential dread as a guide, I scrolled the internet gathering the four-letter words that produced the strongest emotional and intellectual reactions. One is familiar, of course, with the four-letter words traditionally understood to be bad or naughty, but the carelessness of contemporary discourse has greatly enlarged their ranks.

Natural groupings of words emerged from the resulting word bank. Each poem features nine of those words organized in a simple grid structure. They relate poetically, if not entirely logically. They can be read in multiple directions, echoing the broad range of interpretations possible for online communication.

“Nine Word Poem” holds up a mirror to a fractured culture, revealing its fearfulness, its militant ideologies and its willingness to press words into service as weapons.

© Megan Cherry