First Monday Blog: Poetry as Protest

| by Deanna Rodger

For December's 'First Monday Blog' we asked poet Deanna Rodger to write about poetry and protest. In her piece Deanna uses poetry to explore definitions of protest and examine our relationship with it. Read Deanna's poetic response below.

"They've asked for a blog on protest poetry, I've written a polemic."


Click yourself on

Find your simmer

Turn it high

Now, write.


Greenpeace just asked me -

‘whether there are any other issues that concern me.’

I can’t say no.

So, retort,

‘rent and avocados and coffee.’


It’s too deep for an online survey – ask the click questions

yes/no closed questions

you write the choices and I agree, I mean

is this a trick?

This ‘help us help you’ question


believing that a remote opening of this mail-

out should be enough of a donation.


What do you want from me!?

Of course there are.


What bigger symptom of powerlessness is there than to huff at a charity that wants to save

the world?

Haven’t they earnt my concern?


Don’t you want to save our world?


Perhaps I should protest myself,

strike my face to wake my brain to this dark age,

march spears across skin numb to believing that this is humans killing themselves

that we live in the chaos of suicide

that our rivers are arrested

that our oceans are mourning

that our trees are chain-smoking


that none of those belong to us


our possessive adjectives can’t save us.


How is this a protest?

A placard poem

A free write march

An isolated share and crucified post

Star of David in the infinity of Goliath

I'm going off-piste

They've asked for a blog on protest poetry, I've written a polemic.


What is a protest?

Is it an awareness campaign? Is it a banner of what we want instead? Is it a rave? Is it a local

store, a bed sheet slogan from an estate marked for capital? Is it a palace in a shop doorway?

A squat, a ticket tout? A shoplifter? A fare jumper, fraud

or is it silence? Is it turning your face for each slap? Is it gluttony, leaving the tap to run?

Accumulation and hoarding, refusing to die, a flag, a soundbite, a vote? Surely protest has

failed its terms. Surely it's not an ideal candidate for this job of activation.

Accept the loss.


Hold your power.

There’s a little bit of border in all of us

manifested as decisions with enough shame to self-destruct.

Find the source of this truth,

the part of you which twitches at the barrage of syllables


Click yourself on

Find your simmer

Turn it high

This gauge instinctively lowers itself in its own time

The flow of thought will collide and console its selves in neural paths

Now, write.


Courageous visibility

of heart blood

to gather in chambers

to give, to receive,

to come, to go

to love and be love.


I delete the retort of ‘poverty, water and energy sources.’

My greatest concern:

We don’t believe that humans are capable of creating this.

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