VERSEDAY – Poetry, Politics and Social Media

Anyone who knows me, knows that one of my favorite things is the political ranty blog post. I regularly rant over at Angelhorn.com. Feminism, education and religion are some of my favorite topics but I’ll rant about anything. And I love other people’s rants. Nothing makes me click faster than a tweep posting a new rant on his or her blog.

But this blog is about verse. So this post is about ranting in verse, which really, is like the marriage of TWO of my favorite things. And the great thing about edgy clever ranty poems is that they so frequently go viral on social media. And sometimes they even stir up a shit storm. And viral social media and shit storms are like the sister wives to my perfect marriage of ranting and poetry so you can imagine how happy I am when it happens.

Rather than bore you with a whole lot of commentary about poetry as social action (I’m sure there are several PhD theses about it. It’s possible my sister Monica‘s is one of them) I’m just going to share a few of my favorite ranty poems, starting with this one, about immigration by Hollie McNish, whose accent adds ANOTHER of my favorite things.

I could literally listen to her all day.

Taylor Mali is one of my favorite poets for many reasons, not the least of which is that he verse rants about education. This is his most famous poem, What Teachers Make, as interpreted by Semicolon Productions:

This next one I’m including not because it’s one of my favorite poems (it isn’t) nor because I agree with the tenor of the rant (I don’t. Accusing another writer of racism, no matter how successful, or how “white” their books,  is really not cool, especially not to just make a point. Writing a “white” book does not make you a racist) but because it’s a good example of the intersection of social media and verse. This poor poet was lambasted on the blogosphere, on Facebook and Twitter, so much so that she shortly thereafter issued, if not quite a retraction or apology (which, in my opinion, is not necessary. Her views are her views) at least a clarification. Anyway, here is  Rachel Rostad’s “To JK Rowling, from Cho Chang” :

For something a little more measured but no less powerful, here’s an up and coming poet, Aida Bardissi with her beautiful poem about her Arab homelands, Ya Balady.


Finally here’s a spectacular video interpretation of Shane Koyczan’s To This Day. It pretty much speaks for itself. Poetry rules, people.

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2 thoughts on “VERSEDAY – Poetry, Politics and Social Media

  1. Ah, I see we are thinking about the very same things! Thanks for sharing these videos, one of which is also included in my HATbooks post on Poetry, Video, and Social Media: http://bit.ly/13mUvN8. I’m experimenting with poetry and social media myself, and I’m so excited about working with students on multimedia poetry projects. I like your focus on politics and social justice in this post. Did you see the follow up response video of Rachel Rostad shared by Angry Asian Man (http://bit.ly/17j01jl)?

    • How funny! It was the “Mathematics” poem that inspired this post. Maybe we’re both tapping into the same zeitgeist.

      There used to be a VideoPoem Film Festival in Vancouver . Back in my filmmaking days I got an honorable mention. I must dig up that film and post it.

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