Monday, 19 August 2019

Poetry for Parlous Times -- Lucy Coats

We live in parlous political times, and for me it is hard for that not to inform my writing, and in particular my poetry. Writers have always stood up against tyranny and injustice. It is part of our job description to put down the things we see happening around us in words, to comment on them so that when history and herstory look back, they have a snapshot of how things were from a particular perspective. Right now, and for some time past, journalists and writers globally have been attacked and indeed killed on a daily basis for telling uncomfortable truths. The latest attack, on Owen Jones, is just one of many, and they are like canaries in the coalmine, warning us that free speech and democracy are under threat from thugs and worse.

As children's writers, it is important for us to show young readers how things could and should be as far as kindness, compassion and equality are concerned. So, for instance, I write books about a young boy who stands up for the rights of animals against the bullying and cruelty of gods and heroes and hope it strikes a chord. But sometimes, like today, poetry is the only way I can find to express how I feel. So I wrote the poem below because I am scared to death about what is happening in the world. It is a very small pebble against a huge mountain. But maybe it will roll, gathering others with it. Please feel free to share it if you would like to.

Tiresias Speaks, 2019


The gas chambers
did not pop up
out of nowhere and nothing
like mushrooms in autumn.
They were fruit
of tiny mycorrhizal roots 
matted and tangled underground
long incubating in darkness,
spreading capillaries of prejudice,
veins of violence,
aortas of blind hatred. 

Those same roots wait now,
nourished by vicious orange words,
vile blossoms of dead demagoguery,
red hats and caged children,
walls and closed borders
and the killing of different.
Watch them. 
They will grow sooner than soon
into poisonous panther mushrooms
unless we stand up first
and all say


©Lucy Coats 2019

Out now:  Beasts of Olympus series "rippingly funny" Publishers Weekly US starred review
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