anger in poetry?

I have trouble dealing with anger in poetry. I tend to use poetry to deal with anger, so it is odd to include it in my poetry, but sometimes I would like to.


I came home from a wonderful and uplifting evening of poetry and unfortunately turned the news on. I saw that story about the sixteen year old who was raped by two football players and the rest of the team were posting comments online making fun of her. My first reaction was (very American) to imagine taking a shotgun and blowing their faces off and then posting snide comments to their family and friends about it. “Blow their heads, blow their heads off, what’s the difference?” “They may be blind and horrible to look at, but don’t worry, they can still rape people.” “Oh come on, they know they wanted it.” Of course, realistically, if I knew the girl, I would be far too concerned with reminding her that she is still who she has always been and that she is loved to pay much attention to much else let alone anything as tiring and pointless as revenge fantasies. I don’t like being pissed off, and I certainly write to diffuse my anger at times, but it just never seems to be anything very poetic. The best I got for the aforementioned situation was a haiku that is so abstract that the metaphor could be about anything.



a single snowflake fall

I close my eyes


So how do you deal with anger in poetry and still have a poem? I only have one poem that kind of works that deals with a anger provoking subject, but that situation had a happy ending and all I did was narrate the sequence of events leaving my reactions out.

When the Westboro Baptist Church was harassing Sylvester Stalone at his son’s funeral, I was livid. I don’t usually care much about celebrities and what they do, but it was his son’s funeral for god’s sake, what could possibly be a worse situation? But they insisted on going there to scream at him and tell him his son was in hell and so forth. All I wrote about them were things like, “sub-human,” and “vile,” “revolting,” “soulless,” and comments that they seemed to be too scared to risk living life so they attack everyone else who do live and aren’t afraid to live their messy glorious god given lives. I’ll write about religion some other time, but when dealing with religious nuts I do tend to throw their religion right back at them. So how do I convey my anger without degenerating to name calling? Again, all I came up with was another haiku, sort of.


for some people


is a vice


I have trouble incorporating politics into poetry too. I have a few that work, but mostly my political pieces turn into logical arguments or name calling and they start to loose some essential poetical something. When faced with the choice between the artistic quality of a piece and the message, I choose the artistic quality. But why does it have to be a choice?



  1. Ben

    I, actually, been able to use either for a springboard for a poem or twain. I wrote a couple poems about same sex marriage, as you know Brendan, and gave them to my [future ex-] mother-in-law and her girlfriend as a Christmas present. As for anger, it has been awhile, but I made it work.

    • I think that it is mostly a stylistic thing with me, it just doesn’t often fit in my poems. Works for some people, but not often me.

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