Write a Social Change Song or Poem

What are poems and songs?

Poems are best defined as “… literature that evokes a concentratedimaginative awareness of experience or a specific emotional response through language chosen and arranged for its meaning, sound, and rhythm” (Britannica). Songs are a “… piece of music performed by a single voice, with or without instrumental accompaniment” (Britannica). 

They were used for centuries to pass down cultural and historical knowledge to future generations. The Odyssey is a classic example of a poem passed down to generations. Poets and songwriters use powerful imagery and literary devices to entertain and inform their audiences 

Why are poems and songs important for social change?

Poems and songs, like other art forms, play an important role of unifying people and informing others through an easy to understand medium. They are an expression of human society and its beliefs. For example, the Odyssey is a warning to others of the horrors of war, yet it still glorifies the battles fought by great heroes. The epic demonstrates that the ancient Greeks valued honor and valor, but understood that war is a horrific event. They also provide a social commentary that can be created and shared no matter the economic class.  

What are some famous ways that poems and songs were used for social change?

Civil Rights activists, feminists, and conservationists are just a few of the examples of people using poems and songs to enact change. For instance, the Woman’s Suffrage Party created a poem pamphlet using nursery rhymes to advocate for women’s liberation to all ages (National Endowment for the Arts). Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” comments on historic and modern day slavery (Amnesty International)The rhythm is what keeps people interested in listening to the creator’s message.  

Poetry Foundation has a list of poems that expose and critique the inadequacies of human society 


How can you make your own poem or song?

Writing a poem

  1. First, brainstorm some topics that you want to discuss. What issue are you the most passionate about, and why? How does this issue impact my community? 
  2. Once you have a topic, write down whatever comes to mindDon’t worry about writing a lot as you will edit this later 
  3. The next step is to decide if you want to do a free verse or follow a template. If you are a beginner, following a template would be a good start. 
  4. Now find the rhythm and meter that you want your poem to follow. If you are following a template, you just need to follow the rules of that structure.  
  5. Once you created your first draft, revise until you are satisfied. Once you’re done, share it with your friends on social media. 

Writing a song

  1. First, brainstorm some topics that you want to discuss. What issue are you the most passionate about and why? How does this issue impact my community? 
  2. Choose a song structure. A simple structure song writers use is Verse / Chorus / Verse / Chorus / Bridge / Chorus. 
  3. Create a hook, a chorus or vocal refrain, that can capture the audience’s attention. It is something that will be repeated throughout the song.  
  4. Now focus on the verses. The verse is where you are telling a story. If you are having trouble writing the verses, create questions about the issue that people may have. The verses will then be used to answer them.  
  5. Then create the music or melody. There are a ton of free music production software online like Waveform, Studio One Prime, and Surge.  
  6. The next part is the bridge. It is used as a release from the other sections of the song. It is a variation of what was played previously so it can be a faster or slower tempo, a new key, or a meter change.  
  7. Once everything has been created, put it all together. Record the song and the music and revise it until you think it sounds good.  How will you create a poem or song for a social change? 

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