In ‘Dis Poetry’, Zephaniah portrays many ideas about his opinion on poetry, and he also portrays his personal experience with poetry, and how poetry affects him as a person. Through his poem, he aims to break many of the stereotypes surrounding poetry, and how it should be something that is accessible to all, rather than just the elite or well-read
One of the main ideas that Zephaniah portrays in this poem is that poem is all about ‘freedom of expression’, and that it is meant for everyone.
He initially writes how ‘dis poetry is not Party Political’, which could be used to suggest that poetry is not meant to affect the real world, and should be taken too seriously, but is instead simply something that everyone can enjoy. The fact that he writes ‘I’ve tried Shakespeare, but dis is de stuff I like’ goes to show how people should not be confined to specific types of poetry, or forced to respect poetry from history, but instead that everyone should be allowed to enjoy whatever form of poetry pleases them.
Zephaniah also writes how ‘dis poetry is fer de wise an foolish’, which further illustrates his point that poetry should be accessible to all.
He also writes how ‘anybody can do it fe free’ and that ‘dis poetry is fe yu an me’, further showcasing his views on how poetry should be widespread and accessible. He ends the poem with the phrase ‘It goes to yu WID LUV. This shows how Zephaniah believes uses this poem as a message, and the full stop after LUV could be used to emphasise this ‘LUV’, and show Zephaniah’s affection behind the message.
Because Zephaniah believed in the need for multicultural acceptance, this poem could be used as a message to portray how everyone should be allowed to enjoy whatever poetry they like, not depending on their background, and this ‘LUV’ possibly is used to show Zephaniah’s love to these other cultures.
Zephaniah also suggests that, in his opinion, poetry does not necessarily need to have any sort of structure or seriousness. He states how it is ‘not designed fe dose who are critical’, which is used to show that the poetry should just be accepted as it is instead of being over analysed and scrutinised. In addition, he states how ‘no big words [are] involved’ and that ‘pages of written words’ are ‘not needed’, showing that he believes that poetry is all about the meaning behind the words, as well as the ‘riddim’ rather than how it is presented or structured, and the fact that there are ‘no big words’ shows how poetry should be accessible to everyone, not just those who are well-read. Furthermore, the great use of enjambment in this poem, as well as the sections where it breaks out of structure during the ‘chant’, showcases Zephaniah’s beliefs that a strict structure is not required, and the fact that the message of the poem is still very evident shows how a poem does not need ‘long words’ and a ‘structure’ to convey a strong message.
Zephaniah also portrays the way in which poetry is a way of life. He writes how it ‘is wid me when I gu to me bed’ and how ‘It gets into me dreadlocks’, showing how his life essentially revolves around poetry. Furthermore, he writes how ‘if I hav a problem de riddim gets it solved’, which shows how important poetry is to him, and how it plays an important role in his life. He also writes how he ‘chants in de morning, in de night and in de darkness’, suggesting that poetry is a part of his life throughout the entire day.
The change in structure and rhyme during this part of the poem could also possibly be symbolic of how poetry takes over his mind and behaviour, and how this is essentially a ‘stream of consciousness’. This is further compounded upon through the way in which he states ‘when I am talking to meself in poetry I talk, showing how poetry is now part of his mind. However, alternatively, it could also be used negatively, and that Zephaniah’s emphasis on poetry has resulted in a change of his personality.
Overall, Zephaniah uses this poem to some what break the stereotypes about poetry, that it is only meant for those who are wise, well-read and analytical, by instead portraying how it should be accessible to all, and it is unnecessary for poetry to be so serious.