Poetry is any written or spoken word that uses the aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language. Poems can be as creative as you make them, from slam poetry to word art. Poems and activism have enjoyed a long and close relationship, especially in social justice movements.

“Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought. The farthest horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives”
– Audre Lorde

High school students from across north and south Wales take part in Poetry Slam Cymru every year. Check out the poems Sticks and Stones and Blue for a Boy, Pink for a Girl which raise awareness of sexist and sexual cyber-harassment, and the pressures of gender stereotyping.

Check out some videos of teenagers performing their poetry:

  • Aisha Oxley’s spoken word poem, “Skinny” about girls and their bodies, performed at Yale’s 2013 Regional Slam Poetry Competition
  • Ethan Smith’s poem about his experience as a trans teen in A Letter to the Girl I used to Be
  • A young UK woman’s poem Pretty about societal beauty standards
  • Somewhere in America, an amazing collaborative poem written and performed by 3 girls at the Brave New Voices poetry slam
  • Listen to Madiha Bhatti’s spoken-word poem, MU(SICK), on misogyny in the music industry

For more on the power of poetry, poetry slams and the spoken word see the young people’s laureate website, @litwales, and SLAMbassadors UK, the longest running national youth slam in Europe.

For short stories and poems written by young people (age 14-17) addressing LGBT+ equalities see Young Stonewall’s young writer’s competition.

For more resources on how to use the arts for social change, check out, ART BECAME THE OXYGEN: A GUIDE TO ARTISTIC RESPONSE: A Guide for Artists, Emergency Management Agencies, Funders, Policy-Makers, and Communities Responding to Natural and Civil Emergencies

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