March 15, 2018

The Poets of the Student Walkout


On February 14, students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were attacked by a right-wing extremist with an AR-15. Politicians, including Donald Trump, offered the sterilized condolences of “thoughts and prayers” to the thirty-four victims—seventeen dead and seventeen wounded—of what is now the third-deadliest school shooting in US history. But the survivors have taken charge of the matter, forcing a conversation on gun control the likes of which we’ve never seen.

Today, a month after the attack, students at schools nationwide organized a walkout under the banner of Youth EMPOWER, a branch of the Women’s March Network.

“Students and staff have the right to teach and learn in an environment free from the worry of being gunned down in their classrooms or on their way home from school,” the organizers have written on their homepage. They continue:

Parents have the right to send their kids to school in the mornings and see them home alive at the end of the day. We are not safe at school. We are not safe in our cities and towns. Congress must take meaningful action to keep us safe and pass federal gun reform legislation that address the public health crisis of gun violence. We want Congress to pay attention and take note: many of us will vote this November and many others will join in 2020.

Among the protesters are many poets, who’ve walked out and then read their verses and stanzas with sermonic sting. Below are just some examples being posted on Twitter:

Michael Barron is an editor at Melville House.