No van is an island: Poetry anthology from white van drivers hopes to join classics from John Donne and T.S.Eliot
- George the Poet wants to challenge the stereotypes of white van drivers
White van drivers are ‘secret poets’ who are exploring their emotional side and following in the footstep of John Donne and T.S.Eliot.
George Mpanga, also known as George the Poet, has compiled a poetry anthology by van drivers to challenge the stereotype – as they are often associated with macho selfishness.
Mr Mpanga, whose father, brother and uncle have all driven vans, said there is a ‘culturally boxed-in perception of van drivers, and a lack of awareness that these people are multifaceted’.
Two hundred van drivers submitted their poems to Mr Mpanga’s Poetry in Motion competition – one of them was David Haworth, 59, an electrician. He said writing his poem inspired by his late father allowed him to tap into his more vulnerable side – which is something he said he often finds difficult.
Tomorrow evening, Mr Mpanga will choose one of the poems sent in to be the winner of the competition. The successful poet will win a new van from Mercedes-Benz, who is sponsoring the event.
George Mpanga (pictured), also known as George the Poet, compiled a poetry anthology by the van drivers to challenge the stereotype of the ‘white van driver’ – which is often associated with macho selfishness
Mr Mpanga said there is a ‘culturally boxed-in perception of van drivers, and a lack of awareness that these people are multifaceted’
Mr Mpanga, a spoken word performer from London, said van drivers are underrated when speaking to The Times, he added: ‘What they do is part of the wheels and cogs that keep everything moving.’
Mr Mpanga said people often wrongly assume van drivers are non-progressive and white and he wanted this collection of poems to reflect the varied individuals who use vans across the country.
Closet poet Mr Haworth wrote his piece for his father. He added that van driving was ‘in his family’ as he used to go to work on sites with his father from the age of 15.
First-time poets Katie Bower, 43, and her fiancé Karl Maguire, 47 both run a chimney sweeping company in Surrey.
For their submission, they wrote a piece inspired by Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18: ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?’
Some of the van drivers who have made it to the final of the Poetry in Motion competition
White van drivers are ‘secret poets’ who are exploring their emotional side and following in the footstep of John Donne (pictured) and T.S.Eliot
Mr Maguire said people are often wrong about the kind of people they think drive vans.
He said: ‘We don’t all go to the pub after work and drink 20 pints. I don’t drink and we both do triathlons.’
But he added some ‘don’t really help themselves,’ and said: ‘They have to behave better, drive better. But it’s just a small minority of people.’
The winner of Mercedes and Mr Mpanga’s poetry competition will be announced this evening.
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