Apples and Snakes’ Poet of The Month, Tommy Sissons talks materialism, poetry in education and the inspiration behind his debut poetry collection ‘Goodnight Son’.
The young people of Britain today are raised on mass consumerism. Everywhere we look, someone is trying to sell us something; whether it be the latest mobile phone, the swankiest car or the celebrity-endorsed designer shoes. This creates a culture of materialism. The issue with this is that those from poorer backgrounds are denied the lavish lifestyle they see glamourised on television because they do not have the money necessary to live the artificial dream. There is, at this point, a clash of ideals and in a world where misogyny, gun culture and material obsession are forced down our throats, young people like myself search for something real and relatable. For an increasing amount of teenagers and twenty-something year olds this is offered by modern poetry. Poetry today is now fuelled by rebellion. The same people that hated learning about traditional verse in school are now discovering the spoken word poets who have been speaking out against the ills of society for years – and they like what they hear.
I like to think that I’ve always been quite socially conscious for my age but if you were to ask me why I write I wouldn’t say it is purely to influence a positive change in the world; although it plays a large role in my mission. I have always been very intimate with my work and I write for myself first and fore mostly. When I was ten years old, I wrote to calm my confusion and sadness at my father running away; when I was fifteen years old, I wrote to vent my aggression and now, as a 20-year-old man, I look back on all this and I write for the people who have shared similar experiences in life because I find that poetry can be both healing to the writer and the reader. I have known many people who do not feel that their voice is heard and many others who feel that their lives count for nothing simply because of where they were raised. A lot of these people have taken negative paths – ones that potentially lead to prison or death. I write to challenge the conception that young working class kids will amount to nothing. I want them to be proud of where they come from I want them to realise their potential. I have recently finished writing my debut poetry collection ‘Goodnight Son’ (in dedication of a number of boys from Brighton who have tragically passed away in recent years) and this aim of mine is very much at the heart of the work. It is due to be published within the next few months so please do keep an eye out.
Over the last couple of years, I have been teaching poetry workshops at schools, academies and youth centres and what I’ve noticed is how involved the teenagers get when you present them with a poem about something they can relate to. I sincerely hope that the impact of spoken word artists will soon convince the Education Board to introduce some modern poetry into the school syllabus. I believe it will be infinitely beneficial to students nation-wide to learn about the writers making a difference in our communities today as well as the classic authors they study. The future is, of course, with the young. I propose to all teachers that we celebrate them for their culture because it is not incorrect to say there is a thriving and creative youth movement in this country. I, for one, will continue to do so in the form of poetry and I am determined to always represent, through my work, where I come from and what I believe in.