The Girl Effect: Between the Girl and the People, Electricity Leapt

I’m moved. Moved by the The Girl Effect, by the way imagination is a spark, by the $5.00 donation my ten-year-old niece gave me toward this Girl Campaign. By all the others who have donated as well. Thank You. If all of the rest of you and a few hundred more give $5.00 to strengthen and carry the lives of these girls in Bangladesh, well, we’ll have raised a lot of money, and we’ll have joined a movement… This campaign runs through Thanksgiving, so please:

Give Now

Yesterday I went to the elementary school in town to see all the students perform original hip hop poetry that they created over the past three weeks with the original, and one and only, Aaron Jafferis,who came to small town New Hampshire from big city New Haven to show us the way of verse and hip hop and heart.  And whoa…the art these kids made.

Aaron also shared a few of his own works—and one of them, this one I share here—sent my heart sparking. Here he is saying better than I ever could, everything there is to say not only about imagination and voice, but about The Girl Effect. I wish you could hear his voice and see him move as he performed it. Someday I pray he records his poetry because they aren’t meant for the page but the stage. Here it is: the poem, Charge, by Aaron Jafferis. READ IT OUT LOUD.


Back in the day…
No. I’m not talkin bout back in the day when we were young;
I’m talkin bout back in the day, when the world was young,
and each word, an invention spun from someone’s uncertain tongue –
waaaaay back in the day, when languages were being born,
so there were just enough words to get through the day,
and people moved just enough to keep hunger at bay.

Back in the day,
people were grounded, as in close to the earth.
They worked, they ate, they grew old, they gave birth.
They settled down to sleep as soon as the sun was gone.
They got back up at the butt-crack of dawn.
They were grounded, like solid. They kept it real.
They followed their instincts and lived from meal to meal.

But there was one girl who wasn’t so grounded –
she wandered and wondered, and floundered and blundered,
and when others tried to ground her, she would resist.
She’d make up words for things that didn’t even exist,
words for feelings that you couldn’t touch with your hand,
and the grounded people did not understand.

They gathered in a room. In the center was the girl.
They asked her why she couldn’t be grounded like the rest of the world.
The girl opened her mouth and some strange sound came out,
that floated, and shifted, and hung in the air,
and a shiver moved through the people gathered there,
and as she moved her lips and limbs and drew things on the floor,
something happened in that grounded room that had never happened before.
Then and there, the ground was broken, and something new was born,
and the cold and grounded room suddenly became warm.

For the girl was electric, like lightning is electric.
Not grounded, but charged: a lightbulb waiting to hatch.
She was the synapse, the charge, the wire, the match,
the spark in a dark room that makes the fire catch.

And the people, the grounded people, were like the water struck
by the lightning, conducting electricity as soon as they were touched.
And the people leaned in to catch the next…word.
They held their breath in to catch the next…note.
They edged as close as they could get to catch her next foot step,
and the heat of all the bodies changed the weather in the room,
so the room became electric, like lightning is electric
Not grounded, but charged: a lightbulb about to hatch.
And she was the synapse, the charge, the wire, the match,
the spark in that dark room that made the fire catch.

People shouted and gasped, laughed and wept.
Between the girl and the people, electricity leapt
and kept buzzing back and forth and when the performance was over,
and the people left, they left, not grounded…
but charged, astounded, their minds, enlarged,
ideas popping, colliding, and birthing inside the brain,
synapses connecting, collapsing and expanding,
each moment, with a brilliant, electric “bang.”

And of the many grounded people who were in the room that night,
there were a few in whom a like spark was lit,
who became permanently ungrounded, who were charged, then and there,
who spun off furious and laughing into the static air.
And where we touch down, currents connect,
electricity pops and whirs; and we are its conductors
electric and true. We take the tired and grounded world,
shake it, wake it up and make it new.

Because we are all electric, like lightning is electric.
Not grounded, but charged: lightbulbs about to hatch.
We are the synapse, the charge, the wire, the match,
the spark in this dark room that makes the fire catch.
We are the lightning rod, the lake, the tall, tall tree.
Like her, we are conductors of electricity,
dangerous and beautiful not just because we conduct,
but because we change the charge of what we touch.
We ch-ch-change the charge of what we touch.
We change the charge of what we t-t-tou-ch.

To hear Aaron Jafferis‘ voice you can watch this piece he wrote before the 2008 presidential election. He is the first one to speak in the piece. Please invest in girls in Bangladesh, so they can do the rest!

Give Now

Photo from Lomo-Cam’s photostream.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Liz November 22, 2010 at 10:57 am


I love this poem. And thanks for the nudge to read it out loud. It really does make a difference!


Jasmine November 22, 2010 at 2:02 pm

I so wish you could hear Aaron reading it out loud. Thanks for visiting, Liz


Jeanne November 24, 2010 at 7:46 pm


Thank you for this “electric” and accessible Aaron Jafferis poem… and for your generosity of spirit. Thank you. That’s all there is to say… over and over :) I know from your story you live in that space.

Now lets get busy and hep all girls everywhere feel that way! (Oh yeah, you already are…)

Ah, Happy Thanksgiving, Jasmine!



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