Poet David Neita discusses how poetry has been used to campaign in the past and how he uses his poetry to campaign today.
A transcript of this video is available below.
Who is talking?David Neita - Poet
David Neita is a Jamaican-born poet and a human rights lawyer. His poetry explores social issues, social justice, excluded individuals and marginalised groups.
Poetry is not selfish or snobbish. Poetry allows itself to be used in all art forms. You find it in rap, reggae, R&B; music – generally. You also find poetry in drama. Another place we see poetry used very commonly is within speeches.
Winston Churchill understood this well when he used a very powerful poem when he was talking to the American Congress in trying to get support for the war Claude McKay was a Jamaican poet. He wrote a very powerful poem by the name of If We Must Die. He used this poem to fight against racism in America in the early 1900’s. Claude McKay talks about being out numbered but being brave. He closes the poem by saying:
Like men we will face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!
And it is this spirit in the poem that Winston Churchill picked up.
I use my poetry to campaign for better learning environments for youngsters in schools. I also am very much concerned about people suffering mental health problems. I also use my poetry to send a message to Parliament to create better policies that will allow wealth to be distributed to the poorest in society and to the people who really need it most. One example is my poem Mind the Gap.
Mind the Gap between the rich and the poor
If nothing is done it will extend even more
The rich live on Excess Island in the middle of Deprived Sea
when the wealth of the world is enough to satisfy everybody
If wealth is distributed, then wealth will increase
If there is no social justice there can be no peace.
It is important to express yourself – you must speak up. We are living in an age where there is a lot of blood on the streets and I would rather see ink spilled on paper. Take every opportunity – whether it’s to your family, your parents, your siblings, in a classroom setting, in an open mic setting, to express your thoughts and ideas. Write your lyrics down and express them to the world.