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.
A Conversation in America in Early November
by Ellen Burstein
“Good morning! My name’s Ellen, and I’m a volunteer for Hillary for America. Our records show that you’re a registered democrat, and I’m calling to ask who you’re planning to vote for next Tuesday-”
I’m not voting for that woman.
She’s too corrupt—
I don’t trust anyone in the pockets of the big banks
and she’s too crooked—
I mean, they’re bound to lock her up
and she’s callous—
and she’s so loud.
You know, Trump’s a billionaire –
I think a businessman would make a good president
and he’s clever –
I mean, he wouldn’t be so rich if he wasn’t
and he’s successful —
and he speaks for me.
And besides, we don’t need a woman in the White House right now.
You can take me off your call list.
I hang up on an America I don’t recognize
My family is full of strong women
who used their education and their passion and fought tirelessly to become
doctors, lawyers, educators and activists —
just like Hillary.
These are the type of women I want to be
Women who speak their minds
Who are ready for anything
Who seem to know everything
Who refuse to stay silent.
Just like Hillary.
Ellen Burstein is a junior at the Winsor School in Boston.