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.