Can Poetry Make A Difference? By James Harwood

True Aussie Racism - Herbert Nehrlich

The poem ‘True Aussie Racism’, by Herbert Nehrlich, conveys the message of racial inequality and ignorance when justifying the killing of a person. The purpose of the poem is to position the audience to see the racial inequality and the way minorities were treated. The poem draws on the feelings of anger and sorrow whilst hiding the meaning, with a humorous and light hearted façade. The poem consists of three short five line stanzas. This allows the different segments of the poem to be broken up, whilst still allowing the poem to continue its flow. Nehrlich uses simple and slightly abstract language to mask the message in a humorous light. This can be seen in the line, “he was smart, rather tall and also cute”. Nehrlich enlists the theme of racial inequality so that the reader think about the problem, he does this with the use of his structure and language.

Roses - Amaya J.S

The poem, ‘Roses’ by Amaya J.S, talks about racial inequality and how no one is really free when people are classified and systemized. The purpose of the poem is to position the audience to see the entrapment of African Americans caused by conforming to systems and categories. The poem calls on the readers emotions by setting the tone of sombreness and oppression to convey its message. The poem is written in free verse as to show the ever going struggle that the African Americans deal with. The poem uses the metaphor, “we really are concrete roses”, to show how they became great even from oppression. Amaya effectively shows the oppression and racial inequality towards African Americans, by using the free verse structure and metaphors. This can make a difference as it highlights the racial inequality present in our world.

Still I Rise - Maya Angelou

The poem ‘Still I Rise’, by Maya Angelou, portrays messages of hope and retribution against racial inequality. The reader is positioned to see the rebellion and anger towards the oppression and racial inequality, it does this by making the reader feel anger but also inspiration to stand against people who want to hurt you. The poem uses repetition of the words “I rise” to convey the message of standing up to oppressors and that no matter what she won’t back down. It also communicates that no matter what they do to her she will still rise back up to where she was. Maya also uses rhyming to add to the flow of her poem. An example of this would be the lines “I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide, Welling and swelling I bear in the tide”. Angelou uses repetition and rhyming along with her use of emotion to proclaim her statement that even through the oppression she will rise and she will be strong. This can make a difference as it provides people with a stand against racial inequality.

Racism is around me everywhere - Francis Duggan

‘Racism is around me everywhere’, is a poem by Francis Duggan, that reflects the racism that is built in to our society. Francis portrays this message by positioning the reader to feel remorse over the racial discrimination. The poem uses enjambment in lines such as “Some people carry their honour in a flag and of their Nationality they brag They feel superior and they differentiate”. This shows the ongoing struggle of racial intolerance. The poem also uses rhyming, such as in the lines “But like they say sheer ignorance is bliss Just like Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss”. This shows that racial discrimination isn’t changing, it’s always present and won’t stop. Duggan uses enjambment and rhyming, along with emotion to portray the message of racial intolerance and discrimination.

Black or White - Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson’s, Black or White, is song that speaks about how your colour and your race doesn’t matter. It positions the listener to think about how everyone is the same, it does this by drawing on the emotions of happiness and joy whilst hiding the message of racial discrimination. The song uses repetition of the lyrics “it’s black, it’s white” to show how people are categorised instead of being seen a one. The poem also uses enjambment, such as in the lines “I am tired of this devil I am tired of this stuff I am tired of this business So when the going gets rough”. This shows the ongoing struggle of being categorised and grouped. Jackson uses the repetition and enjambment to provoke thought and portray his message that your race doesn’t matter.


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