Socialist Worker

All is not hopeless—an interview with poet Leyla Josephine

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2591

Leyla Josephine performing

Leyla Josephine performing (Pic: Perry Jonsson)

Not watching the news made Leyla Josephine more hopeful about the world.

The acclaimed Glasgow poet has been on tour this year with Hopeless, her latest show.

Leyla told Socialist Worker, “The news makes us feel like we can’t help anyone in any way, that it’s too big for us as individuals to do anything about. You feel like, ‘What’s the fucking point?’

“That makes us feel so small, and that feeling of smallness makes us feel that we have no impact.

“For a really long time I felt like politics wasn’t for me because it made me feel stupid. The political system does make people feel stupid on purpose.

“But then I realised that everything we do is political—and it’s not just for the high class people.”

Leyla is part of a generation that joined school student walkouts against the Iraq war and was politicised by the popular debate during the 2014 Scottish referendum. She hopes her poems can create confidence through storytelling.

She said, “People are told they aren’t valid, that their opinions aren’t valid and no one wants to hear what they want to say.”

Leyla challenges how this despair can feed scapegoating. A line in one poem, “The cows vote for steak, and the slugs for salt, It’s the rich convincing the poor it’s the poor man’s fault.”

She said, “Instead of blaming the rich, people are blaming the wrong people.”

From unrepresentative parliaments to the treatment of refugees or the existence of food banks “there are so many things we need to challenge”.

Go to for tour dates and more information

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Article information

Tue 13 Feb 2018, 13:57 GMT
Issue No. 2591
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