Written by Kelly Donohue, with contributions from Abby Kitnick, Kelley Dupps and Matt Peters
To Jane Doe
By Abby Kitnick, PPAA Communications Intern
My dearest friend
is afraid of how her body works
because her mother instilled the fear
She doesn’t know what is normal
and what warrants a visit
to the gynecologist
She mistakes razor burn for chlamydia
and doesn’t know that tampons
aren’t the only option for
her heavy days
She thinks her worth
depends on her purity
and that god hates her
for wondering if she wants
to kiss girls like she kisses boys
She questions her anatomy
because her first time hurt
and wonders if she is
doing something wrong
or feeling something wrong
or trying something wrong
She is worried that pleasure
might be a sin because
she is conditioned to be
ashamed of her urges
As she ages and evolves
she learns and grows
She will begin to love
her body and leave
her brainwashed fear
at home with her
It goes without saying that poetry has played a fundamental role in our society. Its charming prose and storytelling power have made it a staple of many generations, and it brings out the human in all of us.
Creative writing and literature is used as a tool to amplify voices, evoke emotion and empathy, share information, and incentivize society to act. While this art has been apparent for centuries, we’ve seen this in recent months, with poetry taking a national stage at the 2020 Presidential Inauguration, and literary works like those of Tucson Poet Laureate TC Tolbert highlighting many diverse social justice initiatives.
April is National Poetry Month, and this year’s celebration marks the 25th anniversary of the observance. It was established by the Academy of American Poets in 1996 as a way to acknowledge the meaningful and influential work of authors throughout the country and bring powerful language to the public eye.
Poets and their work matter for a myriad of reasons. The world needs beauty, creativity, and feeling––and now more than ever, it needs leadership and accountability. In many ways, poetry both as an art and a method of action provides these. Its language embodies what many cannot bring themselves to say at the dinner table or in front of colleagues, and for this reason, it is a crucial strategy to make noise and create change.
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona sees the work that writers are doing to make an impact and inspire movements, and is grateful for the many pieces done by notable poets to bring attention to the fight for reproductive justice in particular. As a collective, we’ve put together a list of our favorite authors and their works. We hope that this reading list will enlighten you on these causes and encourage you to take action.
For those who write to love, to inspire, to educate, and merely to be heard –– thank you.
Work we love:
● The Hill We Climb and Other Poems –– by Amanda Gorman, Presidential inaugural Poet and National Youth Poet Laureate.
● Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics –– by TC Tolbert and Trace Peterson
● Without Apology – by Jenny Brown
● Pro – by Katha Pollit
● Good Trouble – by Cecille Richards
● Her Body, Our Laws: On the Front Lines of the Abortion War from El Salvador to Oklahoma – by Michelle Oberman
● For the Love of Men: A New Vision for Mindful Masculinity – by Liz Plank
● Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 – by Cho Nam-Joo
Authors we love:
● Allen Ginsberg – a beat poet who touched on themes of sexual freedom and broke barriers with respect to queer sex in poetry and literature
● Amanda Gorman – who is the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history and has an amazing repertoire of work that reflects our strives for justice
● Erin Kong – whose work touches on racialized gender oppression and runs an organization called Desert Diwata.
● Audre Lorde – a feminist writer and civil rights advocate who dedicated her life to fighting injustice