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Girrl (A Broadside) By Niki Herd

Girrl begins with a growl. The double “rr” lets you know you’re in for something. In fact, the poem is a poem of imperative:

find one thing to love
inside yourself
carry it like a gun
in guerrilla hands
hold this love between
your hands, sing its name
like the alphabet
and shoot woman. Shoot.

The growl deepens as the poem continues into a guttural, instinctive admonition.

find one thing to love
The poet does not capitalize. She is not trivial. Niki Herd starts in the middle. It’s been said before. To women of all ages and colors and eras.

inside yourself
Ah. This is not a behind-a-good-man-is-a-woman poem. This is new. Brave. Love yourself.

carry it like a gun
A gun is significant, dangerous, important. It can scare, it can kill. It can be hidden, like a secret source. Does the poet come from a violent place? Does she know violence? Maybe. Probably.

in guerilla hands
To be guerilla is to generally face a force stronger, bigger, more conventional. The poet calls for a different kind of response for women — smart and sly and underhand, if necessary.

and when government/defeats you,
Rely on no one, especially not the government. It will say one thing and do another.

mountains fall
The worse can happen.

lovers leave,
The personal can happen.

and the words/of women before come/crashing to the ground
Your mother can’t help you. Neither can your grandmother, your sister, your aunt. Feminism, like any political persuasion, is largely a matter of convenience. It can’t be there, with you, in the moment.

hold this love between/your hands,
Like a gun, like a baby, a ladder or a prayer.

sing its name/like the alphabet
You name it; it has power. You sing it, and it is something
more. Prescient. Sacred. The letters of language.

and shoot woman. Shoot.
Take the shot already. Do it. Shoot a gun. Shoot your mouth off. Shoot a movie. Shoot a glance. Shoot pool.
Shoot a basket. Shoot forward.

Girrl is a wonderful, visceral poem.

Historically, broadsides were flat posters, printed on one side, announcing events, proclamations or advertising.

The modern interpretation for Girrl, printed by Kore Press, is a horizontal photo of a woman in a parking garage, cement grey. She could be a woman of color.
She could be another faith. She is not skinny. She wears glasses, a bold print. Her arms are outstretched. She looks skyward, “find one thing to love/inside yourself.”

The form definitely fits the poem. Hear she. Hear she.

The poem “Girrl” is by Niki Herd. copyright © Niki Herd 2012

To purchase the poem and to see the piece in its original and larger format, please visit Kore Press.


Tori Grant-Welhouse
Tori Grant Welhouse is a writer and poet from rural Wisconsin. She holds a BA in English from Carroll College (Wisconsin) and an MFA from Antioch University International (London). She has worked in media for the past two decades and is currently at work on a YA novel, as well as a poetry collection. Connect with Tori on her new blog: http://torigrantwelhouse.wordpress.com
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