Hiding from identity

One of the things that first attracted me to creative writing and reading/writing poetry was the notion of it as an almost otherworldly, sublime escape from the rigidness and mayhem of daily life. One reason that until now, I have not (purposefully) brought my history major or my political views very far into my writing is because I tended to separate my “material” and methodical thoughts about history and politics away from my writing, which I saw as living in its own world: a world that is strictly personal, unhinged, almost spiritual in itself.

I’m realizing that although not a fallacy, this impression wasn’t one where I was being completely honest with myself about what I wanted to write. Perhaps I was trying too hard to create this separation, because now I am developing a notably different relationship with my writing. As I’ve become more comfortable with poetry as a discipline, all of my heated rantings and ravings have begun to start to take lineated form inside the deep and dark corners of the “poetry” folder on my desktop. Lately, all of my writing exercises, and even my most recent workshop pieces, have been delving deeper into identity politics and my thoughts on history—not because I’ve been trying to change my writing, but because my bubbling frustrations and concerns about myself and the world have, for some reason I cannot yet pinpoint, started to take lineated form.

My poetry is becoming more political because I am political, my academic studies are political, and integral parts of my identity are political in nature. I think my voice comes through stronger when I don’t hide this due to a semi-archaic and self-imposed mindset that poetry is more “pure”—a rule that just separates me more than what I could write. My most recent piece, where I tied together the election, womanhood, and my history research project on 20th century Jewish girlhood is a good example of my recent tendency to tie in identity, politics, and history into the poetic—

 

“The other day my coworker said that

in political discussion,

I tend to attack people and that I

am intimidating. Trump interrupted Clinton 51 times

in the debate. Marion Metz leans on her friend

in her shortcut bathing suit, laughing.”

 

Perhaps I’ve avoided the political because of discomfort, because of fear, or perhaps because of an even deeper fear of offending people. But as my voice has gotten bigger, so has my desire to write about big things.

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