Why I Don’t Write Political Poetry

Arguing sheep

Sometimes I think too much. That is my main excuse for not writing political poetry. I’m an after thinker. I’m non-confrontational. By the time I’ve absorbed the daily news cycle and thought about its background and implications, weeks have passed. 

I’m not timely.  

In today’s fast-moving poetic world some people can write a poem on the current news by the end of the day. I envy that. Of course, some are well versed in politics and can fire out opinions with a brain full of background on the issue. As a sporadic reader of news, I can’t make the leap between today’s story and one that came out two weeks ago. It all seems the same to me. Dumpster fires, train wrecks, and slow-motion car crashes abound, cleverly disguised as news.

The current hype of the day is easily missed when you don’t watch television or get the daily paper. 

Read All About It.

I scan headlines, maybe read the first paragraph. I get the gist that way if the writer is any good at all. How do you turn gist into a poem? Maybe a mashup of gists in one rage-fueled epic?

Continual outrage is tiring. Reading the news makes me outraged. Politics as usual, makes me outraged. I can’t write on a diet of calculated fury. Some poets can channel their wrath into biting poems addressing the issue of the day. 

I don’t think I received that poetry gene. 

Maybe it’s because poetry is my safe space to explore more leisurely issues. To wax philosophical about things of importance to me. To hide in my blanket fort. 

With the way things are going today, I want to come out of my shell and sling some of the smoldering indignation into a poem. But I’m not sure how. Snarling and gnashed teeth poetry is not my favorite and I can’t see writing it. I leave that to those who are good at it, and there are some very good poets out there demanding we look at the issues. With the way things are going today, I need to express my discomfort and fears. Poetry is the vehicle for that. 

Learning to Spew

What am I afraid of? Spilling my guts in a blood-soaked mess on the page. But maybe, just maybe, I need to confront my writing (writhing) nest of guts. Scribble it out. There is no poetry police. I don’t have to show my work to anyone if I don’t want to. 

So I have a notebook just for gut spilling. Politics. Things that piss me off to the point of apoplexy. Sentences with more four-letter words than a sentence can carry. And you know what? It’s a good feeling to put the pen to paper and spew. Sometimes in magic marker. I highly recommend it. 

You probably won’t see many, if any political poems from me. Don’t think I don’t care. I care too much. My notebook knows all about it. For those of you that tackle political poetry, kudos. I’ll be reading. 

Do you write political poetry? How do you handle the red hot topics? If you don’t write it, do you want to? Should we be tacking it to telephone poles on hot pink paper?

One comment

  1. Kathleen Cassen Mickelson

    Writing political poetry isn’t for the faint of heart or for those who seek refuge in verse. It opens the writer to vitriol not usually flung in their direction. A poetry journal for parsing that out is a good idea. But there are some thing that beg us to raise our voices; those things don’t always require a head-on confrontation in poetry but, rather, a demonstration of consequences. That is one way to get political work out there in a sort of sideways fashion. And it happens to be my own preferred route for tackling seriously disturbing trends.

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