I’ve been thinking lately about the way poetry can respond to news articles, with the recent project I’ve been working on responding to the Gemma Barker case.
Wikipedia summary: The Gemma Barker case is one where a woman from Staines, Surrey, created three different male personas via social media in order to lure girls into sexual activity.
I’ve written eight poems exploring motivation and identity, using different forms to do this with. There are five beautiful outlaws, poems which are based on excluding letters and writing very rhyming, sound based pieces, there is one epistolary poem (letter to Gemma), and there are two free verse pieces, one of which has the simple structure of detracting a line from each subsequent verse, the first verse being ten lines long. Therefore it’s somewhat like the tune, on the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, but backwards, so that the last stanza is one line long.
I’ve also responded to different kinds of crimes that women commit, in each case researching the news article that I first read and incorporating quotes from the case into the poems. One case was a woman who worked in prisons having an affair with a convicted sex offender. I cut up the news article, and the love letters that she sent him had been posted, so they were cut up also. Then I created a collage poem extracting different phrases and words from the jumble.
The latest piece I’ve written was in response to a Huffington post article originally: Fast food waitresses are prostitutes. As someone who works as a waitress I had the immediate response of, right then. That’s interesting. And wrote the piece that Poetry24 have put up as their daily news poem, check it out here.
Poetry24 is an ace blog that acts as a poetry vehicle for news, their aim: to publish news-related or topical poetry that reflects what’s happening in the world, or current affairs. Have a look and submit to them if you are inspired by a breaking story.