I’ll be honest, I probably don’t have the nerve to write poems in response to world events and current affairs.
For decades as a BBC staff reporter and presenter in global news, I schooled myself to mute my opinions, to prevent even a hint of bias in the journalism. I think it may be rather late to suppress that instinct.
I guess it is possible to write effective poems which are ‘political’ without being crude, didactic or self-righteous, or even without referring directly to the events that inspire the poem.
It may be easier to do this with historical happenings, but very difficult to strike the right note with something that is taking place today, where people are suffering as we speak.
If I/you still want to forge ahead, how do we stop ourselves from doing a kind of potted news report in poetic language?
And do we have to ask whether this is a suitable subject? Is the tragedy (let’s assume it is tragedy or war) being reduced to fodder for poems? Are we appropriating what is not ours – should we leave it to poets in the country concerned to write the tragedy?
I don’t have any answers to these questions. For me, the difficulties seem to outweigh the benefits.
I guess that’s down to the letters ‘BBC’ which still run through my consciousness, like the word ‘Blackpool’ runs through a stick of rock.