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Katie Ellis wins the Lois Middlemiss Memorial Cup!

Date: 29th September 2017

This poem, ‘You Can’, won Katie Ellis (Y12) the Lois Middlemiss Memorial Cup at the centenary celebration of the Christchurch brand of the National Council of Women. The topic was ‘A conversation with Kate Sheppard – towards a gender-equal New Zealand’. Congratulations Katie.

You can stand—
But you must be silent.
You can watch—
But you must not complain.
You can experience—
But you must not learn.
You can be affected—
But you cannot vote.
You can sit and be pretty—
But you cannot age.
You can watch it all taken away—
But you cannot cry for it back.
You can wait for a change—
Unless you make it.
You can stand up and be counted—
Unless you let them stop you.
You can be strong—
Unless you let their voices exceed yours.
You can be as loud as you wish—
So long as your voice can carry and teach.
You can have a say in your world—
So long as you prepare to overcome silence.
You can be who you wish to be—
So long as you ignore those who would take back your freedom.
You can be free—
If you don’t expect it to be handed to you.

You can be independent—
If you don’t hold onto the expectations of the past.
You can be a new woman—
If you vote.
You can—
Wait,
That change,
What became of it?
What of difference?
What of strength?
The battle did not end it merely began with that paper—
I thought you knew, I thought you knew.
Bodies, piled high, degraded—
Disrespected on the grounds of biology,
Will she have children? Soon?
How can she be right either way?
He is right,
He lacks the parts,
He lacks the limitations.
She is a risk—
Rise, should you?
Shout, can you?
Fight, will you?
A pretty face, does not dismiss,
A quick wit,
A sly grin,
A love of life and knowledge,
A purpose
Feminine strength,
Not flesh,
But a mind and a resilience,
From here to the red hot end.
You can—

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