#poetscorner is a feature in which poets share a poem of theirs and discuss the inspiration behind it.
Photograph of Anisha Müller – courtesy of Eleanor Gillespie.
I didn’t plan on writing a poem.
Apart from a few tragic limericks and miscounted Haikus in primary school I have never written poetry. In fact, I have always been in awe of my friends who use it to express themselves. For me, art and writing prose are familiar but poetry is a whole different kettle of fish (pufferfish?!). Maybe I hold certain outdated ideas about poetry – expectations that I’m not sure I know how to fulfil. But what I do know are my two big fears in poetry: pretentiousness and also what my mum calls The Cringe Factor. This is why I was surprised that as I was writing a piece on identity, I got the urge to have a go myself, although sadly not with a limerick…
The thoughts behind this piece, are similar to another article I wrote (here). Taiye Selasi’s TED talk on the question ‘Where do you come from?’ highlighted some of the issues that I’ve confronted in everyday life. Comparing experiences with my more mixed up friends, made me consider the way individuals are defined as ‘other’ and how comments are often loaded with more than mere innocent curiosity.
Some of the people I spoke to were sceptical: is this just another over sensitive, overreaction of a gender studies student? People asking where you are from doesn’t have to be racist…ok no one said that (maybe I do exaggerate!!) but some people did see my questioning as an unnecessary extension of political correctness. Those considered generically ‘western looking’ had of course never been affronted by questions from strangers about their ‘origin’ or ‘heritage’. If you’re white and blond it fits that you’re German, if you’re freckly and ginger naturally you could be Irish…right?
My poem essentially says there is more to it than just the initial question Hi So Where Are You From? Sorry to disappoint but I am neither ‘exotic’ nor interestingly tanned, and if you ask ‘no originally?’ again I technically came from my mothers uterus, but I somehow don’t think that’s what you were getting at.
A Question of Home.
You meet Someone: when do they ask?
You mean my postcode
My corner shop
Everyone I know
My bank sortcode
The view out my window?
No no (you must be confused) tell me your
great grandfather (who?)
Thats the tan then
Oh what was your name
by the way
Anisha is the Deputy Editor of ART & FASHION at PTL. When she was younger she wanted nothing more than to be a window cleaner, but nowadays she’s content with passing the time with reggae aerobics, making art whilst listening to feminist audiobooks and wishing she could eat peanut butter (bloody allergies). She also quite enjoys this whole writing articles thing.
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