If someone was to write a poem about politics: one that fully captured the current global political climate, what would it sound like? What would it feel like? What words would be used? Would it be text, audio, video or some combination of all of these? This is what I have attempted to do in “Emerging Economies”. This blog post also attempts to deconstruct the poem, with several headings added that highlight the narrative arc of the piece.
This blog mirrors the second performance of the poem which I spent several months refining through practice sessions on my morning and evening walks. During this time, I discovered the beauty of solitude in wooded areas. I also noticed that the noise of cars are often great to drown out a more energetic practice session. In the second rendering, I have brought out a significantly more aggressive performance that is also ruthlessly honest and seems to poignantly deliver my vision. I hope the following analysis brings you closer to the emotions I was trying to express.
What they’re emerging from I don’t know.
My guess, the depths of hell.
From the frying pan, right into the fire, or worse; a well.
A deep hole stronger than gravity, the force.
To be forever under the thumb of remorse.
A modern era of endless acts, policies and bla bla bla.
Shut up with all your platitudes.
I see what’s really going on. Aha!
You speak of sustainable development.
Nice to know that you’ve led by example.
Carried the mantle for all these years.
Centuries of ruthlessness, now veiled in sheep’s clothing.
But you won’t shut up. Because you don’t speak.
You never have. You just do.
Each day that goes by, you carry on anew.
Behind all the talk of hope, equality and more progress,
it seems the wolves are lurking.
Cooking up the next tool to subdue countless.
This time, not behind closed doors. But in plain sight.
It’s scary to imagine such spite.
Each year that goes by it becomes clearer that you never cared.
You sold guns, drugs and all kinds of war.
And each time, you kept coming back for more.
You’ve built up antibodies that ensure your survival.
But sometimes I wonder if you’re alive at all.
But what do I know?
Maybe you’re more alive than ever.
Doing what you do best but always more clever.
That not even the most stable of geniuses can evade your pressure.
A strong enough foundation that each break makes you stronger,
So strong that not even the Gremlin can take you under.
Against this dreary background, foregrounded is nothing short of magical.
Beyond hope, prayers or a thoughtless radical.
Or maybe this is all just fake outrage.
An attempt to evade the boredom of this endless monotony and baggage.
Or maybe, the term is out of date.
Like every other that makes me increasingly more irate.
In which case, this poem is at least ten years late.
Or maybe there are too many maybes’.
And I’m perfectly suited for this time of vague uneasiness and indifference.
In which case, my imagination probably needs more sociology and (less) a lesson in rhymes.
This poem follows the voice of someone who seems angry about something. What that thing is exactly, no one really knows. What follows is a combination of some of the internal dialogue, feelings and ideas from this character, and thoughts of my own. Good luck trying to make out the different voices.
This journey starts with a simple question. These “emerging economies” you say, what are they even emerging from anyway? I bet it was coined by a westerner! Someone who is either completely oblivious to the history of those he attempts to encapsulate with the word or worse, someone who does know, but refuses to acknowledge it. As I wrote this poem, I reflected on phenomena I felt I was observing in the world around me. One of such phenomena was the prevalence of people that felt drawn towards the political arena (for me, mainly because of the shock of Trump winning against an opponent that was equally as terrible), but who weren’t necessarily interested in the policy details that various candidates espoused.
I encountered one such person on a popular radio show, who called in to express their thoughts on contemporary UK politics, but in my view lacked any of the substance necessary to carry an extensive discussion. This is the crux of the matter. Passionate, but uninformed. This is precisely the feeling I wanted to get across in this poem – someone passionate about Africa, but finds himself either overwhelmed by the seeming lack of progress or uninformed; or worse, both.
2. Inciting Incident
To say that only one incident prompts someone to express the views captured here would be uncharacteristic of the character being portrayed. There are several events that have brought him/her to where they are in their understanding of the political landscape. For the purpose of this discussion, it seems they have noticed the prevalence of several policy proposals, that do nothing but worsen all the problems he has identified. And in instances where they haven’t worsened them, it has done nothing to curb the problem in any significant enough way. Additionally, it seems all the solutions being put forward, seem to only benefit a select few. Relish the sarcasm of the last few lines of this stanza.
3. Rising Action
The first time I wrote and published this, I spent several months thinking about the way I performed it. That initial performance set the stage for something far more profound. The backing track that I managed to find to go along with my reading of the poem was truly life changing. It was almost as though they were made for each other. So I spent the next few months rehearsing a more aggressive presentation of this poem. The words seemed to have done what they needed to do. What was left was for me to bring the images to life a bit more. And this is exactly what I did. After several attempts, ‘A Second Coming‘ did what I couldn’t even have imagined several months earlier. It took this poem to a new level in a way that this stanza doesn’t fully prepare you for. Here we continue to see more of what makes the character uneasy with the state of affairs.
Infused with cliche’s that would make the likes of Shakespeare squirm, it attempts to get across a very fundamental idea – emotions, more emotions and little to no policy details. If you are reading this poem and thinking to yourself, I want specifics! Well there are none!! Again, a reflection of occasionally my and the average persons understanding of the complex world we live in. Is that to say that we live among a group of uninformed people and oblivious people? If anything it’s saying the complexity of the world seems to have caught up with us. And this has taken us back to questioning some of the fundamentals that we have our society on. Interesting times ahead!
The climax is by far the best part of this work in my view. If you wanted to capture this poem in one stanza alone, which would be completely unfair by the way, it would have to be the line, “Each year that goes by it becomes clearer that you never cared”. At this point, the speaker simply cannot hold in his frustration anymore. His calm and composure have gone right out each and every single window there is to escape from: revealing some of the deepest thoughts he seemed to have been holding in for several years. Let’s let the rest of the stanza speak for itself.
5. Falling Action
After this point, it seems the speaker is coming back down to earth. Was the anger uncalled for, misplaced, or several years too late?
The rest of the poem sees the speaker simmer down in an unexpected twist. He realizes the complexity of some of the issues that get him all riled up that he concludes with the very unexpected, “maybe I need to read more”. If after this extensive discussion, you find that some of the imagery eludes you, these links to a slideshow and a video will help.
© 2019. Shlomo E. Y. Dunyo. All Rights Reserved.
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