Steph Pike is an activist and performance poet. Her poetry is urgent, topical and eloquent. She has performed extensively across the country and has been published in several anthologies. Her first collection, Full of the Deep Bits was published in 2010. She is passionate about the transformative power of poetry, both personal and political.

Steph Pike Poet

“For women, then, poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action. Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought. The farthest horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives.” – Audre Lorde

Poetry communicates intensely and directly. Every word is carefully chosen; an undiluted, concentrate of words. Every word needs to be there. Poetry engages not just with our rational selves but equally with our emotional and spiritual selves; it’s impact is direct and intense. Poetry is shooting up words rather than smoking them. So when poetry engages us it does so profoundly and intensely, and can alter our perception and understanding irreversibly.

If we read a poem and understand that a stone is not what we thought; if our perceptions of a stone are altered irrevocably, then we come to know that our reality, every aspect of the world we inhabit – known and unknown to us – is a collection of ever changing perceptions, some different, some agreed upon to create a shared reality. Everything is a fiction that we are constantly inventing and reinventing, both individually and collectively. If we come to know this, then we come to understand that nothing is fixed, nothing is permanent. And if we know this then we come to know that anything and everything is possible. And then we can believe that we can dream, and not only dream, but that things can change, that anything is possible. We can believe that a better world is possible, that liberation and justice freedom are not just pipedreams but are attainable. And if our hopes and dreams were unarticulated feelings, and we see those given shape and form and life in a poem, if they are given voice then we can believe in the attainment of those dreams and in moving towards our dreams we turn words into actions. Poetry is a rabble-rouser, a revolutionary, a shamen, an outsider, a visionary. It calls us out of complacency, out of despair and hopelessness and onto the streets to fight for what we believe in.

Poetry does not dictate, it enters into dialogue with us. it encourages us to question not only our own beliefs and perceptions, but the to question those in power. And in questioning to find our own answers, but always to ask questions; to view ourselves and our world with a critical eye.

Poetry is many things to many people, but this is what poetry means to me, and this is the poetry I aspire to write. Poetry is beautiful and weird. And at the heart of all this is love. For revolution without love at its heart becomes tyranny, and words without love become empty.

“make it political as hell, and make it irrevocably beautiful” – Toni Morrison