Liberating Words: Prey

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.

by Lydia Broderick

girl sits
on train
knees together
she watches her lap but
she is listening
to the man across the aisle

eighth grade health class
they split up boys and girls

taught girls to walk with
keys in fists
just in case
(if you don’t, it’s your fault)
(no excuses)

taught boys not to be afraid
of wanting
it’s natural
(boys will be boys)
(just don’t get caught)

Lowell line weaves through old mill towns
where poor girls had to stand
afraid greedy machines would
devour fingers as well as cloth
she should be glad to be
on train
knees together
to be listening
to the man across the aisle
just in case

Lydia Broderick is a junior at the Winsor School who enjoys playing music, reading and finding creative ways to avoid cleaning her room.



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.