Writing for liberation exercise: Powerful metaphors

Like everything with writing, creating powerful metaphors comes with lots of practice, and more hard work and crappy writing than most people are comfortable with. Metaphors are not spontaneous bursts of genius.

Daisy Zamora poem translated

Daisy Zamora is a Nicaraguan poet who has written about women's rights, politics, revolution, art, history, and more. She fought against the Somoza dictatorship in the 1970s, and joined the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) in 1973. During the revolution she was program director for clandestine Radio Sandino, and after the FSLN came to power,... Continue Reading →

Honduran refugee: Writing helps me survive

Jorge Madrid is a Honduran activist whose opposition to current right-wing president Juan Orlando Hernández saw him receiving death threats and having to flee the country. He was also a student leader when then President Manuel Zelaya was overthrown by a coup in 2009. He says the stealing of the elections in 2017 and direct... Continue Reading →

3 brutal poems for women: Rare age, fairy tales, and a monster protest

The following three poems are hard and liberating. Read them out loud and with one fist clenched. Laura Passin is a writer and scholar specialising in contemporary US poetry and gender studies. I am not old - by Samantha Reynolds I am not old, she said I am rare I am the standing ovation at... Continue Reading →

Think of Syria – poems by Farrah Akbik

Farrah Akbik is a British-Syrian poet based in London who writes to raise awareness of the hardships Syria and Syrian refugees are going through. Al Sham (*another name for Damascus) I want to lay my head in the lap of Ghouta, Dull my senses with pomegranate wine. Drift like Ophelia down the river Barada, Lose... Continue Reading →

Resistance words from Turkey

A Dead Sun - by Bejan Matur I peel night from the dead sun's flesh and like a scarf wrap it round my head The graves of children - by Bejan Matur So – we died. We flitted out of darkness. Beaches bore witness, as did the tiniest of stones. Night and stars streamed above us where... Continue Reading →

Apathy in poems and quotes

Many of the wonderful ways that people have captured this most stifling of things: “We've forgotten much. How to struggle, how to rise to dizzy heights and sink to unparalleled depths. We no longer aspire to anything. Even the finer shades of despair are lost to us. We've ceased to be runners. We plod from... Continue Reading →

Naomi Shihab Nye – life poems

I love Nye's poetry because of the rich way it brings a new perspective to everyday things and the little things in life, while not shying away from the world's big horrors. Her first poem here is a great example of questioning the smallest things (and making them beautiful through that new way of seeing),... Continue Reading →

Nicanor Parra: “Solid-ground” poetry that is for everyone

“Estados Unidos: el país donde la libertad es una estatua.” (“United States: the country where liberty is a statue”) –Nicanor Parra Nicanor Parra, often described as an "anti-poet", died on Tuesday aged 103.  Parra was a Chilean artist and poet who rejected the formalisms of poetry and abstract, inaccessible, wankiness.  He was direct, blunt, unafraid,... Continue Reading →

3 short Adrienne Rich poems for a dose of realistic wood-stained hope

I like how her poems etch out a determined resistance using nature-based and human metaphors that link the personal with the political. Dreamwood In the old, scratched, cheap wood of the typing stand there is a landscape, veined, which only a child can see or the child’s older self, a poet, a woman dreaming when... Continue Reading →

Like jealousy stains, like the things that calm down hurricanes

Like cream in guitars Like jealousy stains Like the things that calm down hurricanes Like impotent roses Like wrinkles in the sun and goosebumps on the moon Like dreaming elephants and crying tigers Like trains without rails Like bottled meat and smurfed love Like the sound of him painting colourful skeletons Like the colour of... Continue Reading →

If we loved like farmers… two poems from Suheir Hammad

land his approach to love he said was that of a farmer most love like hunters and like hunters most kill what they desire he tills soil through toes nose in the wet earth he waits prays to the gods and slowly harvests ever thankful the missing the way loss seeps into neck hollows and... Continue Reading →

Activism is poetry is activism

Warsan Shire's poems are angry and they argue and rage and weep. As fighting poems should. A British poet, born to Somali parents in Kenya, Shire's poems have been read at rallies, and in homes and not-so-homes. She writes about people who are made invisible in society - often refugees, migrants, and other marginalised groups.... Continue Reading →

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