I was watching Russell Howard’s Good News and came across Benjamin Zephaniah: “a poet, writer, lyricist, musician and trouble maker.” It was interesting to watch what he has to say about poetry as an art form. Zephaniah was talking about poetry and mentioned how he saw Bob Marley as a poet. As an example he recited lyrics from one of his songs (Burnin’ and Lootin’) :
This morning I woke up in a curfew;
O God, I was a prisoner, too
Could not recognize the faces standing over me;
They were all dressed in uniforms of brutality.
How many rivers do we have to cross,
Before we can talk to the boss?
“That’s a song lyric but it’s a poem,” says Zephaniah; “it’s beautiful.”
Russell Howard then at some point asks: Who is your favorite poet? Or your favorite poem?
Zephaniah replies: Well, my favorite poem is by Adrian Mitchell. Very short poem. The version I like is only three lines:
Most people ignore most poetry. Because most poetry ignores most people.
Ever since I watched the program I’m thinking about what poetry means to people, what it means to me and how music can be poetry. I read a few other Bob Marley lyrics but couldn’t relate to them much because his context is so different than mine. But then few days ago I listened to space oddity by David Bowie (Chris Hadfield’s version) and it hit me:
This is Major Tom to Ground Control
I’m stepping through the door
And I’m floating
in a most peculiar way
And the stars look very different today
Am I sitting in a tin can
Far above the world
Planet Earth is blue
And there’s nothing I can do
This was the poetry I was looking for. It inspires me. It makes me emotional. It makes me wonder and think. I can read/listen to it over and over again, I can quote it, I can re-play it in my head, the most important thing: although I have never been to space (!), I can relate to it.
Which takes me to educational research. I’m thinking how people might ignore educational research because educational research ignores them. I’m thinking about the language of “academia,” the alienation I feel when I can’t relate to academic articles, when I can’t really understand what the authors really, simply, in all honesty, mean.
I’m questioning the language of academic journals also because as I’m coming towards the end of my PhD journey, I’m questioning the whole dissertation process. It has been very rewarding for me, there is no doubt about that, but I feel like I could have followed a much different format, more suited to the affordances of the web and more accessible to others. It’s odd to think that there isn’t a single hyperlink in the hundreds of pages I’ve written. There are people who did really creative stuff with their dissertations. Nick Sousanis, for example, wrote his dissertation in comic book format. I’ve seen a few pages where he was talking about Bakhtin. It was amazing! There is also Dani Spinosa who has blogged her entire dissertation. I wish I had done something different and pushed the boundaries of traditional academic writing with my dissertation, but this has been a stressful journey and at this point I just feel fortunate to have at least a refined draft ready.
I stopped blogging, stopped my inner voice which is in a constant conversation with others to focus on my dissertation. I missed it a lot and I’m feeling excited to be back with this post:)
2 thoughts on “Poetry and academic publishing”