Sunday, November 22, 2015

Poetry Prompt #42: Social Issues

Hello fellow writers and friends.  Sorry the post is a day late, had some issues with my internet service provider but hopefully am back in business now.

Anyway, for today I want to encourage you to write a poem about social issues.  I have provided for you a favorite song/poem by spoken word/indie artist icon Ani DiFranco.  She is, perhaps, one of my favorite musicians.  She writes the kind of music that is pleasing to the ear, but even more so refreshing/informing to the inquiring mind.  Many people have said that although they love her voice and the accompanying music, they listen to Ani for her words.  I can't say I disagree.

Listen to the song below and read the lyrics.



They were digging a new foundation in Manhattan
And they discovered a slave cemetary there
May their souls rest easy
Now that lynching is frowned upon
And we've moved on to the electric chair
And I wonder who's gonna be president, tweedle dum or tweedle dummer?
And who's gonna have the big blockbuster box office this summer?
How about we put up a wall between houses and the highway
And you can go your way, and I can go my may

Except all the radios agree with all the tvs
And all the magazines agree with all the radios
And I keep hearing that same damn song everywhere I go
Maybe I should put a bucket over my head
And a marshmallow in each ear
And stumble around for
Another dumb-numb waiting for another hit song to appear

People used to make records
As in a record of an event
The event of people playing music in a room
Now everything is cross-marketing
Its about sunglasses and shoes
Or guns and drugs
You choose
We got it rehashed
We got it half-assed
We're digging up all the graves
And we're spitting on the past
And you can choose between the colors
Of the lipstick on the whores
Cause we know the difference between
The font of 20% more
And the font of teriakiyi
You tell me
How does it... make you feel?

You tell me
What's ... real?
And they say that alcoholics are always alcoholics
Even when they're as dry as my lips for years 
Even when they're stranded on a small desert island
With no place within 2,000 miles to buy beer
And I wonder
Is he different?
Is he different?
Has he changed? what's he about?..
Or is he just a liar with nothing to lie about?

Am I headed for the same brick wall
Is there anything I can do about
Anything at all?
Except go back to that corner in Manhattan
And dig deeper, dig deeper this time
Down beneath the impossible pain of our history
Beneath unknown bones
Beneath the bedrock of the mystery
Beneath the sewage systems and the PATH train
Beneath the cobblestones and the water mains
Beneath the traffic of friendships and street deals
Beneath the screeching of kamikaze cab wheels
Beneath everything I can think of to think about
Beneath it all, beneath all get out
Beneath the good and the kind and the stupid and the cruel
There's a fire just waiting for fuel

There's a fire just waiting for fuel 
There's a fire just waiting for fuel 

Now that you have a great example, it's time to write your own poem about social issues.  Jot down a few notes first.  Personally, when writing a social issue poem I like to write about things that I either really, really disagree with or something that I truly support.  I feel that the more passionate you are about the topic(s) the better the outcome of the poem.

Some general ideas would include:   politics, war, the idiocy of most media outlets (I hate FOX news for their biased inaccuracy).  Poverty, inadequate education for rural areas, and bigotry are some other ideas to consider.  Read a few current issues news articles for more specific subject matter.

Make it a poem you can rant about.  Or simply to inform the reader of an issue.  

Whatever you write about, make sure it is something that means something to you.  Make sure it provokes some sort of emotional stimuli, rather negatively or positively.  

Most of all, learn something, teach something, and have fun honing the craft.