Johnson published on international anti-violence website


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One Billion Rising for Justice features student’s poem

By Sarah Kinney
Staff Writer

It started with a single stanza added to a monologue. It ended up a full-length poem published on a website for an international activism campaign.

Marissa Johnson had her poem “One Billion Rising” featured on onebillionrising.org at the end of December.

She had begun writing the poem as one of two spotlight pieces added to the original One Billion Rising monologue in “The Vagina Monologues” Simmons held last February. “The Vagina Monologues” is a series of monologues written by Eve Ensler about women, vaginas, and various related experiences based on interviews she had with 200 women. Each year, a new monologue is added to reflect current issues affecting women.

Johnson has been participating in the monologues since her first year at Simmons.
Johnson and the other performers were tasked with writing their own addition to the monologue “One Billion Rising,” about how women are rising across the world.

After the show, she worked on extending, editing, and preforming the piece with Simmons Speaks, the on-campus poetry slam club.

In April, Johnson and her poetry were part of the five-person team that went to the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI). Simmons Speaks came in sixth place out of 59 teams, beating out schools like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. It was their first time at CUPSI and at the time, they were not an officially-recognized Simmons Club.
Johnson also volunteers with the Scott/Ross Center. She worked with the Boston Foundation during a Fellowship in Nonprofit Management. It was through this connection she met alumna Emily Scott Pottruck, who helped found the Scott/Ross Center and sits on the board of V-Day, the parent organization of “The Vagina Monologues” and the One Billion Rising for Justice campaign.

Pottruck asked to see Johnson’s poem, and shared it with the V-Day board, including Ensler.

V-Day is a non-profit that Ensler and other women created to demand an end to violence against women inspired by the stories women were sharing after seeing “The Vagina Monologues.” Last February, One Billion Rising for Justice organized a billion people in 207 countries to continue an international movement to end violence against women and girls, promote safe community spaces, and justice. It is also a call for survivors of violence to share their stories.

The board of V-Day asked Johnson for permission to publish her poem on their website and promote it via social media.

“I’m really glad I wrote it,” said Johnson. She sees poetry as a way to express and stand up for herself.

She also appreciated that she is a part of a Simmons community that supports that kind of expression and even helps in getting it published online.

To read Johnson’s poem visit One Billion Rising for Justice.