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
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