Lilly Gieseke is a writer and performance poet from Cincinnati, Ohio. Gieseke began writing seriously when she entered the 7th grade. As a sophomore in high school she began to perform and share her writing with others to raise awareness about mental illness and women’s rights. She believes she can use her ability to play with words to capture her audience using humor and wit.

Growing up with three internationally adopted siblings, her work often redefines what qualifies a family. Her writing has led her to embrace her identity and she uses slam poetry as a platform to further raise awareness about issues she faces as a youth.

Gieseke also as musician, and combines words with the music she composes to communicate her message more effectively. She has written and directed a musical centered on long-lasting friendships, and worked as a librettist with other musicians. Gieseke hopes to encourage communication between those with differences so that we might work together and use collective knowledge to improve the world around us.



by Lillian Gieseke

Petroleuse-noun; a woman who uses petrol to burn down buildings, often used in reference to the Paris Commune, a failed uprising in 1871.

This word is known by few, understood by less, but I find it written in the very fabric of society.

Petroleuse-a word used to assign blame to those suffering the most.

You see, petroleuse was a word spat in the faces of women of insurrection, used to put them down but claim their protection.

I see the word petroleuse written in every flirt, prude, asking for it, rude.

I see it written throughout social media, in posts and tweets and unwanted messages.

Petroleuse-a word used to distract the public from the real need for change with violence and petty insults.

The external becomes more important than the internal.

It does not matter how smart I am if I have long hair and wear pretty clothes.

It does not matter how logical the argument, if I raise my voice above a whisper in the halls, it is the fault of my hormones.

It does not matter who I am, I will be judged on how I look before I am judged on how I act.

Petroleuse-I wish we left this word in 1871 with the ashes of a failed revolt, but it has followed us forward in time.

Through Wollstonecraft’s writing, through the force feeding of Sylvia Pankhurst, through the cult of domesticity like domesticated dogs.

Petroleuse-I am no longer human, I am birthed in flame and fueled by rage.

Like a phoenix I have risen from the ashes of the witch trials.

Singing the song of all women silenced before me.

Shouting the words of every author forced to publish under a male name because of her gender.

Petroleuse-in some twist of fate I find myself wanting to claim this legacy before anyone can give it to me.

All but lost in hours working in the darkness.

For sometimes, you need a dim situation to see the first spark.