28 September 2020
Posted by Tabby Hayward
This week, we were looking at the Young Poets Network challenge with the Orwell Youth Prize, to write poems inspired by political language and George Orwell's Animal Farm:
To begin, we came up with political slogans/quotes we remembered (for good or bad reasons!) from the past weeks, months, or years. Examples included: Stay Alert, Make America Great Again, Brexit Means Brexit, For The Many Not The Few, Take Back Control, Yes We Can, Eat Out To Help Out, Strong and Stable, We will build a wall, and Fake News.
We thought about what made them memorable and ways in which they made use of techniques also used in poetic language (e.g. rhythm, repetition, listing, rule of 3, alliteration, etc).
We then looked at some quotes from Orwell himself about political language ("Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable." "The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns, as it were, instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink.") and thought about what they meant.
We also looked at some quotes from Orwell's novels Animal Farm ("Four legs good, two legs bad", "All animals are equal but some are more equal than others") and 1984.("Big Brother is watching you", "War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength") and what they had in common with political slogans today.
Then, the young writers were challenged to write a poem which made use of one or more of the political quotes/slogans we had come up with as a group, to question, pull apart or reinterpret the political language in any way they liked. Some examples were: