Punk bands have produced an abundance of poetic texts, some crude, some elaborate, in the form of song lyrics. These lyrics are an ideal means by which to trace the developments and explain the conflicts and schisms that have shaped, and continue to shape, punk culture. They can be described as the community’s collective ‘poetic voice,’ and they come in many different forms. Their themes range from romantic love to emotional distress to radical politics. Some songs are intended to entertain, some to express strong feelings, some to provoke, some to spread awareness, and some to foment unrest. Most have an element of confrontation, of kicking against the pricks. Socially and epistemologically, they play a central role in the scene’s internal discourse, shaping communities and individual identities.
The Poetry of Punk is an investigation into the Anglophone punk culture, specifically in the UK and the US, where punk originated in the mid-1970s, its focus being on the song lyrics written and performed by punk rock and hardcore artists.