Eye Witness Poetry. The Kent Shootings 4th May 1970

Shiela McCarty witnessed the massacre. She has kindly offered us the the poems she wrote about the awful event of that day.

Sheila McCarthy Holley

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Kent State shootings. Sheila McCarthy was just 19 years old on that awful day. She witnessed four kids shot dead and a further 10 people wounded when they were caught in the crossfire. The victims were all unarmed, they were students attending a peaceful demonstrations against the Viet Nam war. 

Sheila never considered herself a poet, but the poems she wrote about that day reflect the feelings and emotions of the time and the events.

On receiving the poems, Shiela’s sister responded.

Chici I read your poems in the early hour and I could hear you in them. I feel as if I found you, the fire that shaped you- the moment that made you? Dear Jesus, what a horror. I very much appreciate your sharing this with me.

The Blue Nib thank Sheila McCarthy Holley for kindly allowing use to reproduce her work.

Kent shootings 1
Kent Shootings 2
Kent Shootings 3
Kent Shootings 4

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Editor of North America Time, Felicia McCarthy selects exceptional poetry from new and emerging voices in The United States and Canada : Submit to North American Time.


  1. Amazing poem. Searing beauty in the words that tell the truth, the truth that is not allowed in a so called ‘dreamed of’ democracy.


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