“Gender … doesn’t … come … naturally,” begins the blackout poem of a Kent State student writing about her experience with her sexuality.
“Girls … worry … about being likeable,” writes another student in her blackout poem, reflecting on her experiences as a women.
The Women’s Center and Wick Poetry Center collaborated to host the Write Your Body event as an installment to Wick Poetry Center’s Traveling Stanzas project Friday.
At noon, students gathered at the Williamson House to engage in activities like the Wick “Thread” station, a poem where everyone there adds a line to the body of a larger, group poem, and Wick “Emerge” station, a way to make electronic blackout poems from a series of excerpts on the theme of the body. Students also shared poems verbally and wrote freely about their bodies as well.
“For Women’s History Month, Traveling Stanzas wanted to give students the access to tools for all of March to inspire them to think of the issues surrounding women rights and challenging them,” said director of Wick Poetry Center David Hassler.
Hassler and the Director of the Women’s Center, Cassie Pegg-Kirby, hopes the event impacted students to think more about the culture surrounding women and their bodies.
Director of Women’s Studies, Suzanne Holt, agrees there is a stigma surrounding women that needs to be addressed.
“Even at peace with herself, even if she loves herself, she is still judged and it still hurts,” said Holt. “It makes a women feel like a somebody or nobody; a ‘five’ or a ‘ten’; important or unimportant. All from how she dresses.”
Pegg-Kirby talked about her personal experiences with living in a woman’s body. Pegg-Kirby, talking fondly about her four children, but remembered staring at the stretch marks she acquired from pregnancy and birth.
Originally, she was told that stretch marks were ugly, but in time she came to recognize them as “battle scars” instead.
Brie Alpine a graduate student and an assistant hall director attended the event to support her residents, as well as herself. She said an event like this helps women find voice and explain the difficulties women live with inside their own bodies.
“Writing is a voice and a voice is advocacy; it is how we author our lives. Poetry empowers people,” Hassler said.
Pegg-Kirby and Holt agree that poetry gives the writer the chance to explain their perspectives and add richness to experiences others may not understand.
“Everyone is welcome to write about their bodies. It’s more than just boys against girls, but a woman’s body, specifically, has become a battleground,” Pegg-Kirby said.
She continued to talk about issues surrounding women like sexual assault, reproductive rights and feminine health. These issues created a certain outlook on the women’s body, and encouraged young people to use their words to advocate for a different culture surrounding women.
Write Your Body lasted about three hours, but Pegg-Kirby hopes it was an “entry point” into a long, well-needed, conversation for change.
Caroline Henneman is a humanities reporter. Contact her at [email protected]