Poetry to Promote Social Justice

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
                       Maya Angelou, “Still I Rise” from And Still I Rise: A book of Poems. (1996) Random House, Inc.

Language has long been used throughout the ages as a vehicle to hold strong to hope and strive for justice through the spoken and written word. With incredible power to create new meaning for people, poetry can positively address social justice issues in our schools. Indeed, poetry reflects the values and beliefs that permeate our culture.

Poetry is a great equalizer, offering myriad opportunities for students in grades K-12  to speak about their world through speaking, reading, and writing. Poetry represents many perspectives, disrupting the mundane and the “this-is-the-way-it-has-always-been way of thinking, focusing on developing a language of hope and of change.

In the spirit of using poetry as a vehicle to ask questions and get people thinking, I used a poem by D, H. Lawrence titled The White Horse as my inspiration and mentor text to write this poem.

The Sounds of Social Justice

What sound does social justice make?

A fierce wind rolling over the tall grasses of the plains
The shhush-whish of ocean waves pulling us into a rhythm that
cannot be denied
Each desert evening that brings a constant change
The sounds of dust-patterned glass cracked by years of indifference

Thunders of an avalanche cascading down an unnamed mountain
The creak of boots in a blue night frosted with snow and moonlight
Scattering flaps of birds’ wings whose shadows paint the
canyon walls
The almost imperceptible burn of the ever-changing sunlight

The steady march of footsteps on roads that lead to Washington, D.C.
Words gently but firmly speaking a simple truth of a true heart
Teardrops splash pavements, prayers whispered softly, hands
clasped in unison

Social justice – humanity connecting, raising awareness, changing the world

 

 

4 thoughts on “Poetry to Promote Social Justice

  1. Lynne, the language of poetry is unique in that it gives us the ability to express thoughts, feelings, reactions to events, in a way that prose cannot. In not so many words a poem can be thought provoking or smile producing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There’s some really powerful imagery in this poem. You could almost take each line and write another from it. Thank you for making it about human connection to each other and to the earth. Beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I really loved the way you expressed the sounds of social justice. That’s beautiful! I also loved how you defined social justice at the end of the post, it’s so true. Thank you so much for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lynne, your post is most timely. Throughout the course of history poets have raised their voices to shed light on social injustice -to call out, to illuminate, to be a dissenting voice, to champion a cause. As you write, poetry possesses ‘incredible power to create new meaning for people, poetry can positively address social justice issues in our schools.’ – and dare I say beyond. What a versatile and magnificent power resides in this wonderful thing called poetry. I once wrote, the world needs its poets to each play a part. Now is one of those times- politically and pandemically.

    Liked by 1 person

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