I’ve been honoured to be asked by so many people for a copy of the poem I read out at the Tunbridge Wells TEDx day, so I’m happy to share it here. It was made of the Oxford English Dictionary‘s words of the year from the last nine months – Vape, post-truth, selfie, squeezed middles, omnishambles, toxic, youthquake, Big Society and … well, look at the end of the poem for the ‘word’ for 2015… a little challenge for a writer.
I hope you enjoy it. And if you fancy doing a TEDx talk yourself, I’ve given some tips here. It’s not compulsory to write a poem.
Icarus vapes over a dictionary (2014)
by Sarah Salway
The weather was post-truth that summer, (2016)
we lounged in our gardens,
took selfies in lycra. (2013)
Those sunny Sundays,
even us squeezed middles (2011)
could imagine ourselves gods –
with music breaking through walls
and us dancing,
a rest from the omnishambles (2012)
of so many toxic headlines, (2018)
and if sometimes we looked up
in the hope
that it might never end,
perhaps we were waiting
for the promised youthquake (2017)
who would build us a Big Society, (2010)
a term many of us still liked the sound of
but few had ever understood –
if we were completely honest …
And yes that last one was the Word of the Year in 2015!!
It was also a joy to see alternative words put up by the people who attended the day of talks, including more positive words that we WOULD LIKE to remember 2019 with. Here they are. I’m going to have to make a new poem, I can tell.
NB, Thank you to Simon Pearsall, the wonderful cartoonist who drew that cartoon at the top during my talk. It was a reference to how I use words in the same way as a builder uses bricks.