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Rebellion….to be ‘rebellious’….sounds good doesn’t it? The very thought of the word makes that adrenaline swell in our stomachs, makes us feel empowered, and maybe…just maybe, a little bit dangerous.

Well, happy Saturday to you all and welcome to Poetics!

My name is Stu McPherson, and I’m here to get you riled up, fired up, and get those poetic juices flowing!


What does rebellion mean?

Well, to me it can mean a whole host of things, from political protest, to youth subcultures, to boundary pushing art, film, poetry, and fashion to name but a few. But it could be as simple as deciding to do something out of character, doing or saying something you feel strongly about. But the bottom line is…it is an action that breaks norms, whether these be personal, political, or those of the wider world.

Let me try and put this into some kind of real life perspective. My father used to work for a large pharmaceutical company. He worked there for what must have been 15 years.

He wasn’t one for really ‘conforming’ shall we say, and you could say he was quite eccentric….BUT, he worked and adhered to all the corporate rules dictated to him. This was until the day he was asked to wear a tie. At this point, and without saying a word, he got up,left, and never returned! (of course, I’m sure there were plenty of other factors involved in this, but I loved how it was the tie, the significance of ‘tie wearing’ that was the straw that broke the camels back)

NOW- some might see this as irresponsible- but for me, I see this kind of rebellion as inspirational (perfect for a poem!)

It’s also interesting to me that rebellion and the creative arts always seem to go hand in hand, like the perfect catalyst, the perfect vehicle.

Public Domain Image of ‘Pussy Riot’ by Igor Mukhin courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

For example, look at the recent news from Russia, where the punk rock band ‘Pussy Riot’ have been jailed for expressing political ideas & beliefs through music- even in our ‘progressive’ twenty first century

Painters have also been seen as ‘rebellious’ types throughout history- you just have to look at every single art movement and I guarantee you the artists at the forefront would have been considered risqué or dangerous….look at abstract expressionism for example, or the sensationalists.

SO- maybe to be an artist, to be a writer, to be a POET – maybe that is the definition of rebellion!

But what about the poetry? Let’s get to the POETRY!

For me, the poetry of Allen Ginsberg can be seen as a great example of ‘rebellious’ writing. He broke form, he broke literary rules, he wrote about political climates- he challenged the military, the government, and sexual repression.

Now to some he caused outrage, to some he was seen as genius, but one thing is for sure, he changed and influenced the shape of poetry to come, and particularly the free form.

Detail of poster with Allen Ginsberg from La Fabrika club in Prague by Martin Hassman 2008-04-3 used courtesy of Wikimedia Commons as per the licence agreement

Below is an extract from his poem ‘HOWL’ published in 1956 (it isn’t the complete piece as it’s quite long- BUT I would urge you to check it out)

HOWL by Allen Ginsberg

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,

dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,

angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,

who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz,

who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tenement roofs illuminated,

who passed through universities with radiant eyes hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy among the scholars of war,

who were expelled from the academies for crazy & publishing obscene odes on the windows of the skull,

who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burning their money in wastebaskets and listening to the Terror through the wall,

who got busted in their pubic beards returning through Laredo with a belt of marijuana for New York,

who ate fire in paint hotels or drank turpentine in Paradise Alley, death, or purgatoried their torsos night after night

with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares, alcohol and cock and endless balls,

incomparable blind streets of shuddering cloud and lightning in the mind leaping towards poles of Canada & Paterson, illuminating all the motionless world of Time between


This week I want you to write a rebellious poem!

This might be:-

  • A poem about a time you acted rebelliously-this could be from childhood,adolescence, adult life!
  • A poem about an inspirational rebel (could be anyone from a friend to a family member to a historical figure)
  • A poem that breaks FORM, write something in a completely unusual form that is a departure from your usual style- write REBELLIOUSLY!
  • A political poem about rebellion- hell, there is ENOUGH going on in the world right now! Poverty? Elections? The environment? War? Write about something you feel strongly about
  • A poem about rebellion that is ironic/funny/humorous (for example- oh my, I’ve been so REBELLIOUS, I ate a chocolate bar that has taken me 47 calories over my daily limit)
  • You could even write a love poem about rebellion! Love can be rebellious right?

OK- so hopefully you can see my thought process with this. This is wide open, so be creative, be free with your words! (wow im starting to sound like a total hippie)


  • Write your poem and post it to your blog
  • Add a link to your poem via the ‘Mr Linky’ below
  • This opens a new screen where you’ll enter your information, and where you also choose links to read. Once you have pasted your poem’s blog URL and entered your name, click Submit. Don’t worry if you don’t see your name right away
  • Read and comment on other peoples work to let them know it’s being read
  • Share via your favourite social media platforms
  • Above all- have fun!

See you out on the trail!

Stu McPherson http://www.poemsofhateandhope.com