Poetry books are a personal expression. Working with poets can be a delight or very trying. There is an exactitude poets expect. They have put the best (or even the worst) of themselves into their work. They expect you to do the same.
This is usually not a problem. Compiling poems, presenting them at their finest is something we have to do. This was the case with Steven’s poems. A political studies teacher, he wanted a solid publication of his words to show his students how poetry can be relevant. He was reaching out to his students and showing them there was more than one way to express political ideas, ideals and events constructively. Obligingly, I went to work and tried to figure a way to package the poems so the senior students would be able to see them at their best.
Steven’s poetry focused on political, social and even labour issues. He talked about past and present politicians in an accessible manner. His work looked at current problems, but it did not offer solutions. Sometimes, it was a running commentary on social issues. This was not the rhythm of Shakespeare. It bordered more on Rap. He actually brought in a few sketches and we utilized free pictures of the political figures to add another dimension to the work.
In the end, Steven had a political statement. His students could understand what he was saying. They could even see why he was teaching political studies. With this book, he was showing them how a teacher could work within the academic strictures and be creative at the same time.