National Poetry Day 2021: four poems about abortion to celebrate the theme “Choice”

In 2021 National Poetry Day falls on Thursday 7 October. Each year’s theme is different, with organisers this year picking the theme of ‘Choice’. 

Ironically, this is the same year where reproductive rights in America are coming under increasing pressure. Texas lawmakers passed a bill to make abortion essentially illegal, and Roe v. Wade is under threat. 

In Ireland abortion has only been legal since the 8th Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland was repealed in 2019. 

Elsewhere, the situation for pregnant people varies, but the Centre for Reproductive Rights has created an interactive map showing abortion laws around the world that demonstrates how far we still have to go before abortion access is equitable around the globe. 

Wanting to stand in solidarity with those having the rights to their own body curtailed, and inspired by National Poetry Day, I’ve found four performance poems that speak powerfully on the importance of having access to safe abortion. 

“Women Deserve Better” by Sonya Renee Taylor

Sonya Renee Taylor is an award-winning American performance poet, activist and educator. A former US National and international poetry slam champion, her poem “Women Deserve Better” delivers a blistering, personal argument against the “pro-life” movement in America. 

“It Shouldn’t Be This Hard” by Eva O’Connor

Eva O’Connor is an Irish writer and performer based in London. Her plays have won multiple awards and she has written and performed pieces for the Edinburgh, Dublin and Brighton fringes. In “It Shouldn’t Be This Hard” Eva shares the difficulties of travelling to England for an abortion, before the 8th Amendment was repealed, through one person’s journey. 

“What to Do When a Politician Tries to Fall into Your Vagina Feet First” by Theresa Davis

Theresa Davis is a writer and performance poet from Atlanta, Georgia, and the 2011 Women of the World Poetry Slam Champion. A committed activist, she was a teacher for 20 years and continues to work with young people in Atlanta. In her piece, Davis blasts conservative politicians who want to restrict her rights, giving a wrenching and impassioned performance about the importance of bodily autonomy. 

“We Face This Land” by Sarah Maria Griffin

Sarah Maria Griffin is an Irish writer, poet and zinester. She’s published multiple books, including Other Words for Smoke and Spare and Found Parts. In this piece, multiple women perform lines from her poem, “We face this land”, once again recalling the journey people were previously forced to make from Ireland to England to have an abortion. 

The feature image is used under a creative commons license with thanks to user Cybularny, found on Wikimedia and used under public domain. The image shows the words “My body, My choice” spray painted in pink on a white wall besides a spray-painted red lightning bolt.