I mentioned in my bio that popular culture plays an important role in my life. However, it’s found its way into my poetry too, as some of my poems are inspired from films and television shows. This poem is inspired from I, Daniel Blake, a film about the working class living under the welfare state and how bad things can happen to good people.
I named this poem Maggie: A Girl of the Streets after the Crane novella of the same name. I enjoyed reading that during my American Literature module last year and it holds similar themes to I, Daniel Blake.
In 2014, to commemorate a century since the beginning of World War I, Channel 4 hired British actors to read a number of British war poems. This included Christopher Eccleston who read Testimony (Seamus Heaney) which I posted on The People v. Michigan State.
During the summer of 2017, I tasked myself to write a response poem to each of the war poems on Channel 4’s line up. Maggie: A Girl of the Streets is in response to The Arms and the Boy by Wilfred Owen and it’s read by Gemma Arterton.
Wilfred Owen was an English poet and soldier during The First World War. Whilst in a hospital in Scotland in 1917, he met one of his literary heroes Siegfried Sassoon (I’ll talk about him later) who provided him with the help and the encouragement to write his war stories through poetry.
Owen was awarded The Military Cross in acknowledgement of his bravery but he was killed on November 4 1918 during the battle to cross Sambre-Oise canal at Ors.
Let Mr Rich dart down Maggie’s trench to see
what reality is, and pursue with hunger for loose
change. Eyes rancid with purpose like a dog salivating
at the mouth – thickly dripping like a leaking car battery.
Allow him to caress the blind, broke people under the line
who long to work to feed their families – or give the street
sleepers some food to warm their bellies and a bed for the
night– not left to die and claw for the white light.
For Rich’s life seems to be laughing around the needy.
Conscienceless in his neck’s snake, glittering gold.
Whilst politicians make speeches on human rights,
livelihoods sold – pavements crack and the alleys hiss.