Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Tuesday Poem: Tony Walsh - Net Worked - Poetry and Politics

Nick Laird, in his Guardian article, 'Poetry is always a form of political intervention',  makes the case for poetry as the perfect weapon against demagogues.  "Populism claims to love the people but of course it hates the individual, and poetry is one mode of opposing that. It only deals in individuals, while its trust in complication is at the far end of the verbal scale from the demagogue’s three-word phrases framed as hoarse imperatives.”

Nick argues that it is language that is the most effective weapon, for both sides. We have to beware ‘Alternative Facts’.  “Those who would harm us, and have us harm others, target the language, as Orwell and Huxley and others described. The discourse is debased. . .  There is a terrible violence done to human thought when the official discourse normalises lies, racism, sexual violence. Poetry is one kind of civic response to the barbarities of the two-bit huckster’s spiel, his slogans, his dog whistles: it insists on an attempt to speak the truth, even if, as Dickinson has it, it tells it slant.”

He goes on to say that “To read poetry, to return to a space for second thoughts, for complexity, for empathy, for words that are not defensive or aggressive or divisive or belittling, renews a faith in language and stillness, and a courage in the possibilities of protest, of “speaking truth to power”.” Poetry is an ‘ethical space’ and it enables us to imagine the reality of other people’s suffering.

This is Manchester poet Tony Walsh's poem about the surprising result of the UK elections and the part that young people played in it.  Warning:  Strong Language!  He doesn't pull any punches.

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