Versified Life invited spoken word artists to discuss, explore and share poetry about the relationship between young people and politics in the wake of the UK general election.
There is a recognised link between spoken word increasing engagement with politics among young people, but in general young people are seen as having switched off from politics. We’ve urged our young readers to vote before.
On YouTube, poet Benjamin Zephaniah said,
‘There will be lots of debates about you peoples’ engagement in politics, and come the day (just like the elders) some will vote and some won’t. The problem with many young people (and older people) is that they keep playing the game the politicians (and the media) want them to play.
‘If some people vote and some don’t then whatever happens the status quo will prevail. It doesn’t matter who you vote for the government always gets in. Imagine both young people and adults talking about real revolution, then the same politicians and the media will be begging you not to get involved with politics, because one of the first things are the agenda would be taking the power away from them.
‘Let’s talk poetry. Gill Scot Heron said, “The revolution will not be televised.” It can’t be, because the people who make the programmes will be running. Benjamin Zephaniah said, “I hate this government as much as I hated the one before, and I have reason to believe I will hate the one to come.” I know that in advance, because I have heard their promises, and trust me, they are the same promises they made five years ago.
‘Bob Marley said, “Who’s gonna stay at home when the freedom fighters are fighting?” It’s good to see young people talking about politics, but they keep talking about voting. Where are the young revolutionaries? Where are the visionaries? Don’t be afraid to really speak your mind. If young people really speak their mind, and I mean really, then other young people will do the same, and then you will realise that voting is a very, very small part of the political process.
‘You guys keep doing what you’re doing, but don’t be afraid to take it further. Keep doing what you do even when there is “not” an election. Don’t be scared, be revolutionary. Imagine a different way. Think creatively about politics, as you think creatively about poetry, and just as you liberate words, you will liberate people. Love up.’
Join in the discussion using #StateOfTheYouth. You can register to vote online – and don’t forget to check out Versified Life’s video below: