Liberating Words: “Hallowed Halls”

The poems in our ongoing “Liberating Words” series were written in an interdisciplinary course for high school juniors at The Winsor School, an all-girls school in Boston, Mass. The course, “The Personal Is Political: An Interdisciplinary Look at Feminism,” is co-taught by Libby Parsley, a History teacher, and Susanna Ryan, an English teacher. The second unit of the course focuses on the history and literature of second-wave feminism—the women’s liberation movement of the 1960’s and 70’s. Students read a compilation of poems by women writers from that period and then wrote their own poems; the assignment asked them to represent an issue or problem they see as central to 21st-century women’s experience through the very personal genre of poetry.

UW-Whitewater / Creative Commons

Hallowed Halls
by Aoibheann Holland

Straight A’s, honor roll, privilege abounds;
Endless possibilities for the future.
She always thought
About life after high school,
Getting out of her comfort zone and
Getting into the world,
Yet why was she so scared?

Frat guys and athletes,
high in narcissism
low in empathy.
Parties and more parties.
Does she feel safe
enough to take a shot?

Walking home alone in the dark,
she finds herself
picking up the pace to get back to her dorm

She doesn’t make it back in time,
and a wasted football player steps into her path.
She screams for help, but
Her screams go unheard

She struggles
Through the doorway to her compact room,
Her Cheeks,
Staining the hardwood floor

Her friends ask her what’s wrong,
But she won’t tell
She feels the empty hole in
Her stomach growing wider
With each passing day.
Why should she feel so ashamed?

Now someone asks me what college I am thinking about,
I wonder why I am so scared.

Aoibheann Holland is a junior at the Winsor School, an all-girls school in Boston.  She lives in Arlington, Massachusetts with her mom, dad, and sister and loves to read the classics and spend time with friends. 



Lia Kornmehl is a junior at the Winsor School who is passionate about jazz music, milk chocolate, and equal opportunities for women in the workplace.