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REVERSO Poem

Last week I shared the poetry of the mysterious Brian Bilston, who has been called 'The Poet Laureate of Twitter.' 

This week I have the pleasure of highlighting another Brian Bilston poem, 'Refugee.' The poem is contained in Brian's first book of poetry, 'You Took The Last Bus Home.' This very powerful poem is a technically brilliant example of a Reverso poem.

A Reverso poem is a passage which can be read from top to bottom or bottom to top. 

The poem will often express opposite opinions depending on which way you read it so it can really make you think. A Reverso poem is like a picture turned upside down, a frowning face upended to reveal a smiling one. The poem read in reverse, contradicts itself with an opposing message.

In 'Refugee' Brian Bilston focuses on a societal issue that tends to polarize feelings and the opposing views are clearly in evidence when the poem is read in both directions. Firstly, you are invited to read the poem from beginning to end. Then read the poem backwards from the last line to the first line and be instantly amazed by the contrasting view.

Refugees                               
Brian Bilston

They have no need of our help
So do not tell me
These haggard faces could belong to you or me
Should life have dealt a different hand
We need to see them for who they really are
Chancers and scroungers
Layabouts and loungers
With bombs up their sleeves
Cut-throats and thieves
They are not
Welcome here
We should make them
Go back to where they came from
They cannot
Share our food
Share our homes
Share our countries
Instead let us
Build a wall to keep them out
It is not okay to say
These are people just like us
A place should only belong to those who are born there
Do not be so stupid to think that
The world can be looked at another way


(now read from bottom to top)


Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing that reverso poem, it's interesting to see the contrast. I imagine it's very difficult to compose one!

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    1. My pleasure Erin. The poem does possess a complexity that justs adds to it appeal. So clever and insightful.

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  2. Alan, I am a great fan of the reverso! And, I love to write them. They are like soduko for me. This poem is as heart wrenching as the world we live in. Brian's done an amazing job. I remember as a kid, my very Irish grandfather would say, "there but for the grace of God go I". I thought he invented that phrase...and I just didn't get it until I read a poem such as this. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. I agree Linda, Brain has indeed created a poem with special qualities. Glad I was able to share a poetic form that struck a chord.

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  3. I admire the reverso form so much! Tough to pull off, and this one does it nicely. Thank you!

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    1. As you say Irene, a good Reverso poem requires quite some talent to pull off. This one definitely meets that criteria.

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  4. I know this poem and have saved it, love how creative he is to show how perspective can change. Thanks, Alan.

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    1. Glad you like the creativity of the poem Linda. It is certainly about opposing perspectives.

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  5. Love the changed perspective--such a terrific use of the form! Thanks for sharing it.

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    1. Glad you liked it Buffy. It is definitely a great example of the form.

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  6. This is a wonderful example of a reverso. I've written one, sort of, once. It is a challenging form, but this work shows the power that such a form, creatively crafted, can yield. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. make that "wield" not "yield"!

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    2. You're right Molly, this is a challenging form, which makes Brian's poem all the more impressive. I aspire to writing a successful reverso poem -hopefully, in the future...

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  7. Thanks for sharing this Allan. It is indeed an excellent, and touching reverso on an important topic. It rends me of the Reverso picture book that came out this year - Room on Our Rock. If you haven't seen it, check it out.

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    1. Thanks for the tip Sally- will check it out. Glad you liked Brian's poem. It certainly addresses an important issue.

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  8. Strong and poignant poem Alan, such a different read from the bottom up–thanks for sharing it.

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    1. The contrast is stark Michelle. it is this difference that gives the poem its power.

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  9. This poem is all kinds of perfection.

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    1. I couldn’t agree more Mary Lee. A brilliantly devised example of the Reverso form of poetry.

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  10. This is a brilliant reverso. I've tried writing a few--boy, are they hard.

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    1. I think you have summed this up so accurately Kay. This poem is brilliant and the fact that we understand how utterly challenging it is to successfully write this form of poetry, only adds to the standing of Brian's poem.

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