Rebekah Hardy, Ashley Serraglio, and Emilia Wolfenbarger were all students in Professor Katharine Trostel’s EN 288 class (“From Rustbelt to Revival: Exploring the Legacy of Segregation, Inequality, and Social Justice through the Lens of the Anisfield-Wolf Canon”) at Ursuline College during the Fall 2019 semester.

The first two entries on this page, “Self-evident Truths” and “Self-Evident,” are erasure poems, and were created using the text of the Declaration of Independence and were inspired by Tracy K. Smith’s “Declaration” included in the collection, Wade in the Water (Anisfield-Wolf Class of 2019). Ashley Serraglio’s “We Wade” was solely inspired by Smith’s poem.

In the following audio file, Rebekah Hardy and Ashley Serraglio read Smith’s “Declaration,” along with their poem “Self-evident Truths.”

“Self-evident Truths”

To secure rights of the people
A long train of abuses
Their right—
Their duty—
To throw off sufferance
Independent of undistinguished destruction of
All ages, sexes, and conditions

– Rebekah Hardy and Ashley Serraglio


We hold these truths to be self-evident
that all are created equal endowed
with certain unalienable Rights
the consent of the governed
whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it
institute new to effect their Safety and Happiness.
long established experience evils
the forms of which they are accustomed long train of abuses
it is their right their duty throw off such Government
provide new Guards for future security. Such had been the patient sufferance
He has refused the most wholesome
He has utterly neglected
He has refused accommodation of people
He has called bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable
for the purpose of fatiguing them
to compliance

– Emilia Wolfenbarger

“We Wade”

We wade in the water of circumstantial issues and inevitable defeats.
The water was troubled, the water is troubled, the water will always be troubled,
Whether the Lord did it or not.

We wade in the water of being beaten and dragged kicking and screaming.
Our goals of freedom and running away from the bonds that hold us are not realistic,
We know this, we fight the chains anyway.

We wade in the water of our disgusting history as it laps at our feet.
Threatening to drag us back under its surface and drown us with water thick with the
Oily sludge of shame.

We wade in the water of false hope and an honest belief in something greater.
If we are led astray we always come back, we move on from false teachers to
Trust in the greater power who troubled that water.

We wade in the water of true love and support as it buoys us out of the sludge.
It settles the shame, breathes life in the defeat, gives hope to those on the run,
Tells us that the fight can be won.

– Ashley Serraglio