#PoetryPromise is coordinated through Poetry by Heart with the aim of promoting and spreading the love of poetry. My #PoetryPromise for 2015 is to share a favourite poem of mine every month through my blog. My choice for March is What Guys Look For In Girls by Savannah Brown.
I’m a big admirer of the YouTube creator community, as I explain in my post Why I Teach. I like the creativity, passion and independence of the platform and its democratic ethos. It’s been beset by controversy – sexual abuse, product placement, and ghost-written books for example – but in each case the community has been swift to respond and dish out its own justice. This poem is a great example. It was written by then-17-year-old vlogger Savannah Brown in January 2014 in response to a particularly tasteless and offensive video posted by Vine star Nash Grier entitled “What Guys Look For In Girls”.
The poem passionately shreds the notions of other people’s expectations of attractiveness, inhabiting the slam form with its ebb-and-flow rhythms and poignant, personal epithets: “you’re worth so much more than your waistline.” It’s the best possible response to the mindlessness of patriarchal values. And it’s so appropriate that Brown chose poetry for her response, because the form lends weight to the words. In a poem, words have a heft, a gravity, a substance that no other form can give them.
I’ve said before that the reasons I’m in teaching are to help ensure that young people understand the world well enough to have something to say about it, and have the best possible voice to express their ideas. This poem captures all of that. Here is a teenager with heartfelt, considered ideas and a powerful, passionate voice to express them in. And what’s more, she has a platform to reach those who need to hear it the most – YouTube’s young audience.