🏆 EDITOR’S CHOICE: “Girl on Fire” is Olivia Hall’s response to the omnipresence of rape culture across the globe. With this poem Olivia brings to the fore a new idea of placelessness, very different from that of white male existentialist, Camus-esque writers. “Girl on Fire” depicts a world that is on fire, with no place of refuge, where womxn and nonbinary individuals always feel the burden of Otherness, of sexual harassment and assault, on their backs: “Rape culture is not contained in borders. It flies, cross country, in my backpack.”
The poem also skilfully elucidates coherent and tangible definitions of safety and harassment: the ability to navigate the world without losing the ownership of one’s own body—something that the world and its myriad cultures actively disallow the speaker to have throughout her life: “I have never been safe. My body has not belonged to me since the day they named me girl.
Oliva Hall performed this poem at Poets Versus Sexual Harassment in partnership with UN Women UK.
Tigger warning: references to rape, sexual violence, assault.