Skip to main content
Amnesty International UK
Log in

Words That Burn - celebrate through poetry


First watch poet, author and performer Joelle Taylor explain why she is a poet. 

Joelle says she is inspired by “… people coming from the more disadvantaged communities, from the marginalised communities. And just listening to their stories of stoicism, resistance, dissonance, change and that somehow provokes poetry within me.”

As a poet, you can connect with other people’s stories and use your poetry to reply. You can celebrate those with whom you share collective experience. You can amplify the voices of people you feel deserve to be heard.  


 “Take Up Space by Vanessa Kisuule - BBC iPlayer Exclusive”. Uploaded by BBC

Vanessa Kisuule is a Bristol-based performance poet and writer. She has won numerous Slam championships and has been named the Bristol City Poet 2018-2020.

Watch Vanessa Kisuule perform ‘Take Up Space’ (read the poem). 

Now reflect on the poem: 

  • What did you like/dislike? 
  • Does it trigger any feelings in you?
  • Does anything in the poem resonate with you? Why?


Now choose an image of someone involved in a human rights moment whom you want to celebrate. Or choose one of the below images to celebrate. 

Think about or make notes on what you can see: the body language of the person or people; their facial expressions; surroundings; any questions you have about the event or people; what catches your attention in the photograph; which human rights are being enjoyed.

Write a three-stanza poem using the second person ‘You’ and using this pattern:

  • Stanza 1 - Describe the body language and facial expression of the person
  • Stanza 2 - Describe the surroundings and what other people are doing.
  • Stanza 3 - Ask the person questions about who they are, what is happening, how it came about and how they feel about it.

Petition hand-in

Young people hand-in a 75k strong #FamiliesTogether petition to the Home Office. © Marie-Anne Ventoura /Amnesty International.

Petition hand-in

Northern Ireland: first same-sex marriage takes place. © Justin Kernoghan/Amnesty International.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Words That Burn - bitesize poetry series 

Explore more about the power of poetry with our other bitesize blogs:

The Words That Burn bitesize poetry series explores the power of poetry and suggests writing activities you can try at home. For full teaching resources visit

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
View latest posts