Poetry as an agent of social change


Posted by pbakes | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on July 25, 2013

A big question.

Can the written word change attitudes?

“Throughout the ages, groups of human beings have experienced the full range of hardships, injustices, hopelessness and struggle. History tells innumerable stories of those who’ve been conquered, exploited and treated as inferior to others. Many writers, including poets, have expressed in words those human conditions and raised their voices against oppression, racism and justice. Good poetry can transform and shape people’s thinking and understand and help the reader stand in the shoes of others.”

People write and film and speak about hardship and injustice and some of the more powerful writing comes out of situations where people stand against oppression and injustice.

The question to ask is whether the written word can change attitudes.

The phrase – the pen is mightier than the sword speaks of this. In fact a Greek poet Euripides said “The tongue is mightier than the blade.”

The Bible says that the word of God is living and effective, sharper than a two-edged sword

In Hamlet Shakespeare wrote a line – many wearing rapiers are afraid of goose quills

Thomas Jefferson in 1796 said to Thomas Paine – Go on doing with your pen what in other times was done with the sword.

So there is a view that words can be very powerful

A well-known and recognised early Aboriginal poet and social activist was a lady known as Kath Walker or Oodgeroo Noonuccal.

Dreamtime is a poem spoken by Kath Walker on the steps of Parliament House on March 27th, 1970. You can read it here.


To understand Kath Walker we need to know about the Stolen Generation.

Open up the following website:

The Stolen Generation

Read this webpage together and view video clips by way of introduction to the voice of Kath Walker

Write a comment

Skip to toolbar