Why My Voice is Important

Spectrum’s 1st place winning poem by Grace Jolliffe from Abbott Middle School!


From the beginning of my memory,

my mother has told me to choose bravery

over beauty.

She has told me,

that I don’t need to search for half of myself in another person,

for I am whole already.

My mother taught me how to tie my shoes, be a big girl,

how to cry and then move on.


But there came a time

when I learned things she didn’t teach me.

Things like

how to believe my body is an insult,

how to soften my sentences,

so they don’t cut through the fragile armor

of masculinity.

How to bite my tongue

when people confuse my name

with “sweetheart”,

and obey when I am told to smile.


There were suddenly so many closed doors.

So many people refusing to listen,

refusing to believe that the world is controlled

by only half its population.

These people wanted me

to shut up and sit down. They told me

“Don’t undermine the social structure we so carefully built” and

“Forget what your mother taught you”.


But I’m not listening to them,

because my voice will bring change.

Change for the girls who are told they’re too bossy,

for the boys who think the word “female”

is a synonym for “weak”.

I’m preaching the words of my mother,

and it’s the people who will not listen to voices like mine,

who will learn the most.