Saturday, September 09, 2017

How to write a bleeding heart subaltern poem

Social justice warriors love to write poems depicting the suffering and martyrdom of their favorite oppressed groups.  Writing a poem is of course the most authentic act to actually do something about the oppressed.  Lighting candles and marching with similarly perfumed gentry is another authentic act.  Such poetry and candle-lit marches go a long way in ensuring that the oppressors will start shaking in their knees at the revolution happening right before their eyes.

Such poems are usually too intense to pay much bourgeois attention to things like metre and rhyme.  They are more about the suffering of the oppressed than about any claim to artistic value.  It is a mystery to critics why the writer warriors don't simply write in prose.  Most such poetry is prose, only arranged as to have just a few words on each line.

Perhaps brevity and simile is a way to shortcut the laborious and no-doubt useless analysis required to understand a complex situation.  Perhaps it is easier, and infinitely more effective, to just go ahead and pour one's heart out to one's echo chamber.  Anyone who critiques the poetic quality of the poem is a heartless sociopath who cannot look beyond the words into the feeling.  And anyone who critiques the content of the poem is a fascist anyway.

All rhetoric in the favor of the oppressed is a priori true.  Whether that rhetoric changes the economic situation is another matter.  But the wheels of history grind slowly, and any drop of oil is welcome.  Or so we should assume.

To assist writers of such poems, I hereby offer my humble guidance.  By following these hints, you can come up with a poem quickly and effectively, and then get back to angling for doles from the government and from the Rockefeller Foundation.  Follow these five rules, and you shall be successful in your revolutionary intent.

1. You have to use at least one of these elements in your poem: soil, moon, clouds, raindrops, fire, some birds.
2. You have to willy-nilly introduce one of these: a lantern, a torn blanket, a dark corner, a dirty window.
3. One of these characters is a must: a hungry infant girl, a suffering pregnant woman, a debt-ridden farmer, a lower-caste student, and if in America, a non-slim-non-white non-man.
4. Mention some archaic and romantic detail about rural/country lifestyle where life was idyllic and capitalism was at bay.
5. The poem won't feel sentimental enough without at least a few overt uses of these words: heart, dream, pulse, truth, curse, cancer, and so on.

I will of course take my own instruction, and offer you two splendid new poems for the annals of revolutionary literature.

The moon
Though it shone shyly through the broken roof
Could not light the path to his dreams.

When I could taste
The blood of that farmer in my bread tonight
I froze.
Was I one of his murderers too?

The birds
Of that farmer's dreams have long since flown away
What is left
Is nothing but the cage.

His still pregnant wife
Who looks everyday at the barren soil of her fields
If her tears will be enough to water them.

His lantern was almost burnt out
But the light in his eyes was fierce as ever.

He would not be like his father, he murmured,
He would rise through the gutters
And be a man of power and influence

He would then help his brothers
Who continued to dwell in darkness.
And continued to wash away, with futility,
The dirt that was stubbornly under their nails.

But while his mind shone with knowledge,
His heart was heavy with lament.
And his back, bruised by the lathis of the police.

He would not be like his father, he murmured,
Who had been beaten to death by the landlord's army.
Was his father a martyr?
Or merely a lesson he refused to learn.


I am sure by now your heart is bleeding as much as mine as I wrote these poems.  You must be feeling motivated to actually do something about these farmers and these poor students.

Well, at least, that's the idea.

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