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Voices and Verses

National Poetry Month: “Girrl” by Niki Herd

The Houston poet talks about poetry as a weapon and reads a poem for her niece.


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Courtesy of the poet
“Poetry is important for me because I feel like it’s really the only tool…really, weapon, that I have to articulate the world the way I see it.” – Poet Niki Herd

In this sound portrait, Niki Herd describes how her poems begin on scraps of paper and how poetry is her weapon, and she reads her poem, "Girrl."

Niki Herd grew up in Cleveland and earned degrees in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona and Antioch University. Nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize, she is the recipient of fellowships from Cave Canem and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Her work has been supported by the Astraea Foundation and the DC Commission on the Arts and has appeared in several journals and anthologies, including Feminist Formations, North American Review, The Feminist Wire, Split This Rock and Resisting Arrest: Poems to Stretch the Sky. Her first collection of poems, The Language of Shedding Skin, was published as part of Main Street Rag's Editor's Select Series. She lives in Houston, where she is a Ph.D. student in poetry in the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program.



find one thing to love
inside yourself
carry it like a gun
in guerrilla hands
and when government
defeats you, mountains fall
lovers leave, and the words
of women before come
crashing to the ground
hold this love between
your hands, sing its name
like the alphabet
and shoot woman. Shoot.


This poem was published in Cave Canem Anthology XII (Willow Books 2012) and is reprinted with permission by the author.

To learn more about this series, go here.

Catherine Lu

Catherine Lu

Senior Content Producer & Announcer

While growing up in Chicago and Houston, Catherine’s love for art, music and creative writing was influenced by her teachers and parents. She was once concertmaster of the Clear Lake High School Orchestra and a four-time violinist of the Texas All-State Symphony. A graduate of the University of Chicago, Catherine...

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