Words Matter: Inaugural Poetry Contest Winners
In celebration of National Poetry Month, the Ward 6 Dems sponsored Words Matter, a poetry contest open to all residents of Ward 6. The topic of this year's contest was "What does DC Statehood mean to you?"
Katie Irish, Ward 6 Dems
Joel Safarti, Ward 6 Dems
Regina Charles-Bowser, Ward 6 Dems
Matt Koehler, Editor of The Southwester
Gwen Hunter, Coordinator of Events at Solid State Books
Laurie Gillman, Owner of East City Bookshop
In the end, four poems were chosen as our co-winners. We hope you enjoy them!
Three DC Haiku
two Senators, one Rep each.
Query: Why not us?
Feds like our taxes.
Let our people go!
Statehood will release
DC’s soul. Nation needs our
by Jill Strachan & Jane Hoffman
One More Would Be 51
Statehood, oh statehood, what could it mean?
A fish from an ocean or an apple from a tree?
Although statehood cannot be those two things,
Statehood is 50 things, and 50 things equal 50 states.
DC can be as loving as Virginia and as tasty as Maryland’s crab cakes.
DC, DC. What is not to like?
Cherry blossoms, mumbo sauce this is where they make the laws.
Washington, DC is the best thing a state could possibly be.
Come and see because it’s important to me.
By: Drew Avery Muie
School: Payne Elementary School
Grade: 3rd Grade
The State of My Statehood
Like unfinished wood, the District of Columbia can survive indoors or
outside of the House.
We prefer to be on the inside, to be included.
We prefer to vote and have it count.
It isn’t a question of politics.
It is answering the question of politics with basic fairness,
Solving issues that taught us civics.
Statehood means being seen in America, being heard in America and,
Growing with Americans.
Simply put, it is Freedom, Equity, Honor, and Respect.
Acquiring these truths is and has been a self-evident uphill battle and often,
an unlikely climb up the ladder through the rings of Congress.
Nevertheless, those like me in the ‘hoods named after Barracks for Marines,
Yards needed for the Navy, Hills with no Caps, Triangles with many corners
and all things George;
We’ve remained Diligent, Empowered, Long-Suffering Tax-Paying
It is because we have hope.
It is because we are diligently waiting for the door to open.
I am patiently waiting for the state of my hood to one day be 51 shades of
And we will continue to make down payments on policies, elections and
decisions without representation until we have proper documents which will
Statehood for me is like a big blockbuster movie set to premiere on
Independence Day, the whole world can stream it, watching it from
handheld flat screens.
It is our next Emancipation Day, our newest April 16th, 1862.
It is the result of merging just action with the right vision to leave
behind a country better than the one we were given.
by Tori Collins
What DC Statehood Means to Me
long living in ward six,
where my eyes long
to look up and see that 51 st star fly on flags saluted by our city’s
soldiers who are - even in battle - from full representation barred,
even as with pride and love of this country risked their lives. Maimed.
Taken prisoner. Died.
where my ears long
to celebrate statehood one sultry summer night from the Barracks
stands. Marine band playing Sousa marches chosen mere blocks away
from where composed. Now I hear Duke Ellington’s voice in mood
indigo blue tell Congress what it must do: “Our democracy don’t
mean a thing if statehood don’t swing, Doo-ah. Doo-ah. Doo-ah.”
where my nose longs
to smell burning sage signal a symbol of statehood turning a page for
Chief Powhatan whose spirit’s known to still trace space in Botanic
Garden, sacred from past time there spent, mere speck of his territory
once vast. Pained uncontained from portraits installed on Rotunda’s
walls nearby; Native peoples cast as passive, daughter Pocahontas
depicted stripped of her name. Shameful images intended to
perpetuate policies of removal indefensible. Rightly resisted as
reprehensible. Rebutted by starkly opposite actions and transactions of
Natives, thousands then living right here. Statehood approval under
that same roof belated pointedly indirect proof; or at least a start with
art’s symbolic removal.
where my mouth longs
to erase sour stinging taste of Constitution embraced to justify
opposition. Masks tight-fisted control over our city many claim their
rightful role, unrepentant of a largely colonialism racist remnant.
Shirley Chisholm wisely warns: surely statehood’s no swift solution.
Segregation stains remain in our city’s prolonged economic inequity.
Affordable housing’s geographic misallocation, uneven education,
basic needs of Wards 7 and 8 unheeded. Educator, first African-
American woman in Congress, first woman and first African-
American presidential candidate, perfect inspiration to articulate our
Resolution: “That 51 st be the state first to make those ideals real for its
citizens – each and every one.”
where my feet long
to celebrate statehood touching Cedar Hills grounds, stunning view
down the Anacostia from once home of Frederick Douglass. Might we
adopt his words powerful and insightful for our statehood fight? “No
American now has a skin too dark to call Washington his home, and
no American has a skin so White as to deny us our rights.”
Long has DC statehood made sense.
Long the wait. Long. Long. Long. Long. Long.
We’ve waited long enough.
by Kathleen O’Reilly