In Dark Times: Some Thoughts on Political PoetryPosted: 2015/04/29
“Political poetry is a risky business,” Clare Pollard writes in this post. “Be too subtle and irony can go unnoticed, be too explicit and readers can feel preached to. It can be difficult to get the right angle on your material. Mainly though, critics say they don’t like poetry that ‘tells them what to think’.”
Last night I was at the Betsy Trotwood for the launch of Campaign in Poetry, Emma Press’ political anthology. I was pleased to have two poems included, and it was an interesting event with some blisteringly great moments – Kayo Chingonyi’s ‘Legerdemain’ and Luke Kennard’s ‘Poor Door‘ made me particularly envious. The latter is online, so do read it immediately (‘We built a stack of gambling chips in your neighbourhood…’) If I have a ‘subject’ it’s human relationships, and as I’ve moved beyond my early love poetry, more and more I want to look at wider relationships – control, fear, guilt, responsibility – which has meant I’m increasingly interested in the political.
But political poetry is a risky business. It is easily reduced to parody: the performance poet’s rant about bedroom tax (rhyming soulless with ‘control us’); the grim, slightly misogynist ‘satire’ about X Factor Culture; the…
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