Poetry of Witness and Response
Nelson Mandela said, “Poetry cannot block a bullet or still a sjambok [whip], but it can bear witness to brutality—thereby cultivating a flower in a graveyard . . .” Throughout history, poets have felt a moral or ethical—or simply a personal—imperative to bear witness in their poetry to social and political acts of injustice. Such poetic witnessing has always been difficult and continues to be so today. What strategies can help us write passionate, powerful poems of response?
Evan Oakley is the Program Chair of the Department of English and Speech at Aims College. He has taught full-time at Aims since 1994. He teaches Composition, Communications and Humanities courses. He has served as Chair of the department since 2005. He is a recipient of the 2004 Faculty of the Year Award, the 2010-2011 Dean's Award, a Colorado Council of the Arts Award for Poetry. He has published in various journals and magazines, and is a 2016 HearStrong Champion recipient.
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