See it, Hear it, Change it

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Photo by Julie Ostler

Students promoted social change by reciting their poetry and performing live music, as part of the Writing for Social Change Conference, in the Classroom Building Nov. 3.

Students from Carney’s English course called, “Wild & Angry Literature”, were invited to perform their poems and songs. Students discussed social media themes, women’s gender roles, reappropriated fairytales, to satirical poems on romance.

Shauntel Peterson, a senior English major at UVU, said poetry recited out loud is an effective way to promote social change.

“There’s so much more emotion and intention and humanistic qualities through these words in performance,” Peterson said.

The poetry section of the Social Change Conference is called “See it, Hear it, Change it” where Scott Poole was the featured poet this year. Poole, who has been a poet laureate of a radio show for nearly a decade, is known for his ability to mix news with poetry. UVU English professor and poet, Rob Carney described Poole as a “magic realist, a humorist and a social subversive in poetry camouflage.”

Booyah Moon, a band made up of former UVU students, performed original songs that they made from Carney’s class. The song “1800-55-Dream,” which was performed at the event was written by lead guitarist Jordan Freytag. The song critiques consumerism by embodying the style of an infomercial. Joe Roberts, vocalist and guitarist, discussed the relationship between music and social change.

“I think music is more immediately engaging and accessible than poetry or literature. Not better or worse, just more accessible. More people are likely to listen to a song than they are to read a poem,” he said.

Poole finds a balance in his often humorous poetry by avoiding dry straight reportage, but also by not insulting the people or events. He encourages the use of concrete images that people can build off of serious topics.

In his poem “The Only Food in Ferguson” Poole uses a bruised apple as one of the main images. He also describes how poets also have the advantage of talking about feelings when writing on events.

Poole became inspired to intertwine poetry and news when he learned how frequently mass shootings occurred while working as a poet at The Poetry Report.  He also noticed how the televised news portrayed the footage as almost entertainment.

When writing about school shootings Poole asked himself, “how can I make anyone feel anything from this besides just the same numbness we’re feeling?”

“To me, the basis of all poems is trying to describe a feeling, not an event. A good poem is reporting on a feeling that was experienced in an event,” Poole said.

He mentioned his poem written about the Boston Marathon bombings.

“The Boston Marathon to me, is a feeling like when I’m in the eighth mile run. You know, it’s like pain, suffering, but joy at the same time that you’ve made it that far. And kind of a victory over tyranny, of the body, of time, of all kinds of things,” he said.

Scott Poole is the author of three books of poetry: The Cheap Seats, Hiding from Salesmen and most recently The Sliding Glass Door. His poems can also be found online on Nailed Magazine in the Poetry Report.