Poetry and poverty 1: ‘Poverty is many things’

During 2016, through our Poverty Media programme , many people got the chance to work with professional authors to write about their own experiences of poverty and exclusion. Some of this work was performed as Powerlines at the Manchester Literature Festival; poems were also written at a residential event in Windermere during the summer. We’ll be sharing all the poems here over the next few weeks. Today: ‘Poverty is many things’.

Poverty is many things

 

Poverty is not entertainment, it’s not noble or romantic.

Poverty is… heavy.
It’s heavy hearts and heavy legs.
It’s sore skin and hollow eyes.
It’s upset and downhearted.
It’s hunger. Malnourishment. It’s always thinking about the next meal.

Poverty is bailiffs, it’s food banks, it’s queues and lists, it’s never being told what you’re entitled to but always being told.
Poverty is being shown up then put down.
It’s missed payments and mistrust.
It’s always answering questions but never answering the door.

Poverty is hiding in plain view. It’s hiding.

Poverty is high bills and low pay.
It’s higher costs and lower self-esteem.
It’s invisible scars and visible pain.

Poverty is living nextdoor, it’s living on your nerves, it’s not living, it’s… barely surviving.
Poverty is… everywhere. With… nowhere to turn
It’s a gut-wrenching silence, screaming.

Poverty is depressing, demotivating and dehumanising.
It’s degradation, desperation and despair.
Poverty is feeling… worthless, it’s feeling anxious, it’s feeling excluded, it’s feeling rejected, it’s feeling ashamed, it’s feeling trapped, it’s feeling angry, it’s feeling fffrustrated, poverty is…. exhausting.
It’s not feeling anything. It’s… numb.
Poverty is… crushing. Empty. Lonely.
Poverty is cold. It’s damp. It’s ill health. Bad housing. Sadness, fear and human misery.
Poverty is ignored and abandoned. It’s sanctioned and sectioned. It’s late payments and early deaths.

Poverty is not something that happens to… “others”.
Poverty is our old people, our young people, our sick people, our disabled people, our mentally ill people, our homeless people. Poverty is people seeking asylum, it’s people who are refugees, people who are migrants. Poverty is over-worked, under-paid everyday people.
Poverty is people. It’s children. Babies. Not… “them”. Us.

“Poverty is the worst form of violence.” (Mahatma Ghandi)
Poverty is growing in our country. In 2016.

Poverty is many things, but
it is not
acceptable.

 

Tony Walsh | Longfella | www.longfella.co.uk | tony@longfella.co.uk | @LongfellaPoet

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