Poetry essay: Political poetry

One subject that can be found in poetry is politics.  This essay looks at the idea of if a poet should write about politics in poetry, and if so, how.

There are a number of reasons a poet might choose to write about politics.  It could be a poet feels strongly about a certain issue and wants to express that.  A poet might want to influence readers to see their point of view on an issue.  A poet might want to support a particular political philosophy or candidate.  A poet might want to support a change in society.

In writing poetry about politics, there are some things to consider.

First, politics can be an emotional subject.  It can sometimes be draining for a poet when they really want to express an idea about something they feel strongly about.  Also, the tone of political poetry can sometimes be one of persuasion, refutation, or argument, and this can be draining as well.

Second, politics, by its nature, can be divisive.  Some readers will agree with a point of view and others will disagree.  The audience will not only be limited, as it would be with any poetry subject, but it will also have readers opposed to the message expressed.

Third, politics is a timely subject, which means the poet will have to keep up with current events to write about it.

Politics can be an interesting idea for a poet to write about.  Sometimes a person feels strongly about something, and there is also something about having the chance to influence society through ideas and words.

In writing about politics, a poet could choose along the spectrum of being subtle to being direct.

The pros of subtle political poetry are that a poet can express an idea in a way that might not seem political.  For example, if a poet felt a certain way about minimum wage laws, they could write poetry that either focused on groups that benefit from them or groups that don’t, in such a way that they get the idea across without seeming to be supporting a political idea.

For example, if a poet thought minimum wage levels should be raised, they could write a poem about a worker at a minimum wage job who can’t pay their bills.  They could focus on the plight of the person, while only subtly referencing the reason.

Alternatively, if a poet thought minimum wage levels shouldn’t be raised, they could write a poem about a small business that went out of business, in part because of worker salaries.

In both these situations, the poet would be expressing their point of view, but in such a way that it wouldn’t come across as supporting a political idea.

The downside of subtle poetry, is that if it is too subtle, the message can get lost.  A poet might not get their point of view across.

If a poet decided to be direct in their poetry about politics, the benefit would be that they could get their message across in a clear way.  It would be clear to the reader what the poet believes.

The downside to this is that it could alienate readers and invite argument.  If a poet is direct about a political belief, some readers won’t like their point of view and others may argue about it with the poet.

Direct political poetry might work better in situations where a poet is speaking to an audience that shares the same beliefs.  The idea is to reach people who think the same way.

Subtle political poetry might work better in situations where a poet is speaking to an audience that is along a spectrum of disagreement with the view of the poet.  It could be the readers have not thought about the issue, or that they are slightly to mildly opposed to the point of view of the poet.  Subtle poetry could be a way to reach them.

There are a number of reasons a poet might write political poetry.  Before doing so though, a poet should consider the drawbacks of it, as well as how direct they want to be.

Advertisements