Poet in the gutters press forward


By Zena Edwards | Unusual Suspects Festival 2017

This poem is inspired entirely by the conversations, comments and perspectives that came out as part of the Unusual Suspects Festival session entitled ‘ Language, oppression and power (A Poet in the City discussion)’.

#Grenfell — a minutes silence for the prematurely departed

before we get started…

Poets in the gutters press forward, strategically look back

to expose media opportunities when politicians hijack

the peoples languages, finish our sentences,

while sentencing us to dumb down news.

“Kickback”, it says, “we’ve got it covered,

we’ll be your lady singing the Blues.”

For example, economic use of the truth for an alphabet xenophobic

“you ain’t no Muslim mate”, remember when Cameron

quipped this quote to the camera myopic?

The People’s culture is made a refugee

When headlines shift gear

When papers u-turn 180 degrees

To deepest our fears

Brexit propaganda took craggy routes to recruit

The disenfranchised child of the Saint Georges Cross

And drew a red line through the first thousand century of words,

Can you sort the wheat from the dross?

And the inside man spoke:

“The Daily Express is a foul organ in the British psyche”

Kitchen sink ink in national papers sacrifice our humanity

for the 64 year old man crying “Crikey!

Remember the good old days,

When there were just three channels

And the BBC had global monopoly?”

But she’s cancer ridden is ‘Old Auntie’

Keeping tumors like Saville hidden.

An established press establishes mental bars of oppression

But the Grime class fist spits bars against its suppression

The voice of Generation Next is media diversified –

A global view with limitless imagery exposes truth between the lies.

The noise of the establishment’s clacking typewriters

make use of crisis tragedies

The Internet sets shape-shifting agendas

social media a friendly frenemy.

Poems are the left of mainstream, are flowing rivers

Of colour, and all that is foreign

Flooding comfort zones, changing climates

Restructuring life’s rhythm

Poetry says “oppression’s mouthpiece is boring, a lopsided commentary”

Excitement is Love dancing Hate in a perfect symmetry

Creative words, language learning and politics intertwined

can mature policy-making like a full bodied wine

Such voluptuous direct democracy rides winds afresh

Talking back to the city, will we pass the test

And ignore the mocking headlines that hit the streets like Napalm bombs?

National security crosses borders, through the TV into our homes

The bricks and mortar of the tabloids,

The broadsheets, the ritual morning paper

Cannot compete with the poem’s demand

For deeper emotional labour

A poem reminds us of just how numb we can get

After consuming so much distorted uncomfortability

Selectively remembering that which they want us to forget

Disturbs our domesticity,

Pulling memory from the brink of concrete form

Space to feel emotion pushes back against the ‘norm’

Language is a mirror for our conscience

In the dusk of a Arab Spring evening

Take a gorgeous poetic pause

To make a rudimentary moment

Have more revolutionary meaning

When we are time poor our thoughts score low

With high risk poverty of our collective moral compass, so



to heal

the elitist carnage.

Sometimes we must make poetic image,

To reach the bones of our bodies commodified

Poems reclaiming space for human emotions

Sketching bluer-sky thinking our minds

Take heed though, poems too can show no mercy

Grab you by the throat, the scruff of the neck,

Take your hand like a gentle lover

Soothe the pain of the regret

So don’t speak words recklessly — take care

There are bruises hidden in poetic code too, so beware

The poem is the home for a little humanisation

To connect with those Incarcerated in isolation

Bad press abuses bad language, the poem heals the divide

Build bridges between flavourful difference

Poetry reminds us what it means to be alive



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