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Subject to Change: 'White House Banter' by Corey Peterson

photo of corey peterson
14 Nov 2018
6 min watch

The latest in the Subject to Change poetry series, Young Poet Corey Peterson presents his poem 'White House Banter'. 

Subject to Change poet Corey Peterson shares his personal take on the controversies surrounding Donald Trump’s presidency.


Who do you think writes well on the topic of change?

Anyone who is able to clearly distinguish between organic and non-organic change, between a chemical and a nuclear reaction - thereby demonstrating an ability to (throughout the course of their poetry) track an internal central foundation as something separate to the layers of colours and shades which form around it. A nuclear reaction of a change is a lot more rare than a chemical one, especially within us as human beings.

Having said that, basically all of the Barbican Young Poets. For example, poets like Bella Cox, Christy Ku, Gabriel Akamo and the superstar that is Laurie Ogden, all manage to invitingly track highly relatable journey’s, even throughout poetry where they pinpoint and explore highly specific experiences. Manor The Late Kid is able to encapsulate highly personable forms and phases of change like a pro, off the cuff, as demonstrated in their recent touring ‘Sound Experiment Live’ gigs. They manage to track and operate change independently through several different mediums at once, all improvisationally, and all on top of both a near-genius sensitivity to their craft and a highly particular attention to detail. Jeremiah ‘Sugar J’ Brown writes particularly well on cultural change and calls to action, for example, in his poem ‘Funeral Initiative’ he explores how we pay homage to those who pass away, and how we should embrace their legacies differently.

Poetry, in my eyes, is a raw and vulnerable spell of emotion and quest for understanding


The Barbican Young Poets community is legit a crazy, crazy, really, really, ridiculously talented, pioneering and warm community to be a part of; it’s safe to say that the BYP Leader and literary juggernaut that is Jacob Sam La Rose, alongside his talent for both poeticising and facilitating journeys of change, deserves a massive shout out.

Why do you think poetry is a good way to talk about change?

Because poetry, in my eyes, is a raw and vulnerable spell of emotion and quest for understanding. I’ve come to find that putting the crux of any issue or emotion out there can do nothing other than incite some sort of progression and, therefore, a change that can be tracked and inhaled throughout the journey of the poem itself. Poetry is all about the emotions  behind the thought processes and experiences which substantiate it. We all go through different experiences but we all end up feeling the same emotions, albeit sometimes to different extents. It’s that raw and immortalised regurgitation of emotion that can translate into other peoples contexts and, in doing so, can give them the common ground which has the potential to motivate them to actually take action, whether independently or collectively. Whether that of nature or of us, it is action that change requires.

How has poetry changed your life?

Poetry gave me a voice. For many years, through all sorts of contextual and personal trials and tribulations i.e. homelessness, financial hardship, isolation, traumas and health scares (both mental and physical), I neither trusted nor did I feel able to communicate with or seek help from others. I would write though. At times when I was all alone and constantly at the end of a burnt out tether, putting things down on a page, in a raw ramble, is what let me see myself outside of my own head, allowing me to put things into perspective and to navigate my way forward.


Poetry made hard times into written chapters that I was able to leave on the page


Poetry made hard times into written chapters that I was able to leave on the page, relieving me of some of the weight that would become, at times, a literal anchor. In putting my poetry out into the world and being okay, if not better, afterwards, I actively paved way for my voice to begin to flow out of me freely, confidently, upon impulse and with purpose, in spite of any anxieties. These days, when I pray it often comes out in verse. My poems were the stepping stones that I wrote myself in order to get me here alive, in order to acknowledge where I’d been and in order to both remind myself of and to track the parts of me that were changing, alongside the parts that never would. My poems have also, from way back, been the keepsakes that I’d write to my loved ones, so to let them know that I still love them and that I always will, even throughout not being with them.



So I did what I felt as though I could do; I wrote a poem

What inspired this poem?

The infamously problematic and discrimination-revving president of the leading nation of the western world is, yet again, at the centre of multiple scandals, as well as being under investigation. And - in what seemed to be a defensive retaliation - he went out of his way to make sure that a Trump supporter and someone accused of sexual assault became a lifelong Supreme Court Justice, a top-tier decision maker for the western world’s leading nation. We’re talking a person/Judge who was openly, from the get go, someone in favour of overlooking presidential malpractice in an impeachment hearing. Trump pushed for a trump-card of a senate and he even fired his attorney general after his considerable scandal-fuelled fall in standings, which lead to a loss in the midterm elections.

Revelations surrounding practice within the white house and his further elongated list of consistently overlooked faux pas just say it all. Whilst the western world's leading nation is head deep in worrying about The Problematic President named Donald J Trump, two other leading nations (and potential threats to international security) were testing nuclear weapons together, as if raring to go for WWIII. One of those said threats, China, has been being prodded and provoked by the decisions of the same ‘president’ whose scandals are blindsiding the only known nation in the world who has the nuclear and political reach to ensure a preventative level of mutually assured destruction. I personally feel as though it is of global interest for Trump to be removed as President. The recent midterm election win for the Democrats is a hopeful, organic and necessary step in the right direction. Trump, everything that he has done, everything that is happening in relation to him and everything that it is blinding the world from, is news that, even still, needs to be taken more seriously and looked at in its fullest capacity.

So I did what I felt as though I could do; I wrote a poem.

White House Banter

The Headlines are in:

Nixon called, he wants his fate back.
Woodward, do the world a favour,
release the tapes, set Trump’s ‘World War: Watergate’ firmly on track.
Don’t leave that man’s power intact.
He’s a serial abuser, he’s cloaked one too many malpractices in all of his privilege.
Don’t give that crooked man his safe house back.

He’s running. Still running.
Pacing us all the way around.
You know it’s trap.

Tell Kavanaugh that if he is to be a Trojan-Horse-brought chess board provision,
his entry into this world-watched game needs to have been hidden.
Not manoeuvered like a sparkly trump card, out in the open, in stunning high definition.
And Trump, whilst your klansmen watch you through their screens
and urge you to ‘Make America Great Again’,
let those fearfully privileged terrorists know that the first colour TV screen was invented by a Mexican.
But don’t worry, there’s no Kaepernick pleading, on bent knee;
tell them that they don’t need to burn anything.
Except for maybe their ties to you.

Time’s Up.

Trump has been declared Fake News
Next up: a segment that we like to call ‘Tell the NRA that we’re “Draining The Swamp”. #ShotsFired’

Once upon a time, the privileged claimed that progress had been made
- Trump: “I could shoot someone on 5th Ave and not lose any voters.”
Reports are in. The police got there first.

that all of the racism,
Muslim Americans on Trump's travel ban: 'We live as second-class citizens'
all of the 19th-century-civil-war-founding tensions,
Another woman has been murdered.
She started peacefully protesting in Charlottesville;
she ended under a car.

and all of the misogyny,
Locker Room Banter
- also known as Toxic Masculinity at its finest -
was, in fact, donned and coined by the current leader of the Western World.

the privileged claimed that it had all been abolished.
And then came your presidency: A world-streamed embodiment of all of the dwelling microaggressions.
Suddenly it wasn’t all just a skit on NRATV, you became proof that it was alive and kicking.


Thank you.
You were getting away with it too.

You Hitlered your hatred into the catalysed and emblazoned actions of dehumanizing propaganda-fuelled tribes.

President Donald J Trump Suggests U.S. Border Security
Be Like North and South Korea’s

But your hatred was founded on a campaign spun of lies
You waved your testosterone-fuelled trigger finger over the apocalyptic threat of nuclear war.
White House aide removes paperwork from Trump's desk,
fearing him to be a threat to national security

I’ve never been so astounded by who was democratically entrusted with the fate of the world than ever
You put athletes kneeling and the facilitation of the murder of children
Yemen school bus bombing
'one of 50 strikes on civilian vehicles this year'

above those who sit with no power except candlelight.
Let’s take a closer look at the hurricane trodden Puerto Ricans who are on month 11
of having, by Maria, been beaten
bare and blue.

But you are human too; you’ve no omnipotence, or freedom from consequence,
Our thoughts are with the 3,000 who were lost along the way.
You were once a bright blank canvas, waiting to be coloured.
And now we know the truth.
Like the purple civilians that you’ve torn red and blue in your tirade of abuse,
you were drowned in a pool of shade that a vulnerable canvas should never have been exposed to.
Let’s head over to Churchwell for a report on Memorial Day ‘27.
I don’t blame you.
All hail Trump! His economy is booming.
US job growth is at this century’s all time high!

What trumps any of your successes: you founded them all on prejudice, schemes and lies.
Trump's podium seems to be falling through his lies,
all the way down to what is shaping up to be his finish line.

Stop Running.

You had your affairs and tried to cloak them in all of your privilege.
Be sure to model your stitches all the way to the senate.
Cohen and Manafort sit poised to walk them all of your tricks.
Retrace your tracks,
own every inch of that ill-rooted grit.
Country first, follow Nixon;
you need to just             stop running.

Rev on down, into the depths
at which we glare;               they’re stunning.
Back at ‘Crazytown’ Donald,
they’re all falling like flies.
Hit the road Don,
and don’t you come back - no -
Mueller might put you in a jumpsuit this time.

It seems clear now that you’re running on shallowing borrowed time.
And on the world's most watched platform; you’ve nowhere to hide.
You’re running and running,

as if you believe yourself to be a God who can walk on water,

running and running and sinking all the while.
It seems that now, you’ve near hit your inevitable trial.

It was a worldwide, near-literal, hell of a ride.
A presidentially prolonged case of lives flashing before their eyes.
Oh bless you Looney Donald, we tuned in,
and you tried.
But your antics were erected on waning time-bomb-cored lies, to-be-compensated cries, and collusion
and tomfoolery and authority-abused ties.

You’re running.

Stop running.

Trump has been caught on camera
winking at Putin.

The world is urged to delete their emails.

Watch more Subject to Change

Discover more performances from our Young Poets as they respond to our changing times through poetry

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