Friday, 8 April 2016

freedom or death...

they put us in prison
simply for taking petitions

we submitted

we allowed them to dress us in prison clothes
we allowed them to put us in solitary confinement

we allowed them to treat us as ordinary criminals,
and put us amongst the most degraded of those criminals

and we were very glad of the experience

because out of that experience
we learned of the need for prison reform

we learned of the fearful mistakes 
that men of all nations have made
when it is a question of dealing with human beings

we learned of some of the appalling evils 
of our so-called civilisation

we could not have learned in any other way
except by going right through that prison experience

It was valuable experience
and we were glad to get it

But there came a time when we said

"It is unjust to send political agitators to prison
merely asking for justice

and we will not submit any longer."

- a poetic spin of an extract from Emmeline Pankhurst's Freedom or Death speech
delivered in Hartford, Connecticut November 13, 1913

Poetry Form: erasure poetry

Linking to:
Imaginary Garden With Real Toads - In the Footsteps of Suffragettes


brudberg said...

So true... I'm glad for what was has been done, and I look forward to what will be done. After all every spoiled little boy growing up has to hear it from his mother, sister or wife... Maybe we need prison reforms for marriages too.

Sanaa Rizvi said...

This is so touching!

Debi Swim said...

I am grateful for those women who came before and started paving the path. I know I take for granted so many times because my own fight (thankfully) hasn't been as hard. You did a grand job with her words.

aLeX said...


"and we were very glad of the experience
because out of that experience
we learned of the need for prison reform"

Sherry Blue Sky said...

This is absolutely marvelous, and isnt that what women do? Learn from any experience how to make things better? I love this response to the prompt, Gemma. Thank you so much for joining in.

Kerry O'Connor said...

This is so powerful, an inspiration for our times.

Ellecee said...

Yes, as it is with many things, we can't understand them unless we have experienced them. This can be a very difficult way to learn but sometimes a necessary process to make serious changes.

Myrna R. said...

I guess something good can sometimes come from bad experiences. This is testimony to women's sharp observations and wisdom in demanding change and prison reform is indeeed a just cause.

Anonymous said...

such powerful lessons - ever grateful for thos brave women

Susie Clevenger said...

Experience is a great teacher. It creates an authentic voice. Powerful piece.

Outlawyer said...

Wonderful idea for the prompt. Thank you. k.

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

Bravo! For her words, your choice and your crafting.,

grapeling said...

strong pen, Gemma ~

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