I first embodied the label, “poet activist,” after my victory in a local haiku contest, The Miami Herald Haiku Challenge 2011. I won with a haiku that exposed Florida’s pill mill industry and its connection to Kentucky’s number one cause of death: prescription pain pill overdose. The overdoses are the result of Florida’s I-75, nicknamed “Oxy Express.” Noticeably, I write on what concerns me about this world; remaining loyal to myself, the collection of poetry I currently dwell on huddles closely around the issues I carry in my hands and heart (to see a sample poem, click on the link below). The poetry book not only aims to represent the complexities of the individual in society, but also, it aims to display the relevance of unique, personal and creative expression. Essentially, this project illuminates the following themes: the role of the individual in the context of society and culture, the servitude to gender roles, the exploitation of the body and the natural environment, and the diktat of popular culture.
In order for the collection to emit these themes, prioritizing the intimate and genuine self proves to be significant and indispensable. Indeed, the poetic brand, Confessionalism, might be seared into a description of my collection, but as writers like Sylvia Plath or David Trinidad bravely demonstrate, matters unique to the self unavoidably untangle into matters of the world. When utilizing the private self for literary crusades, civil truth leaks from the page. Honesty from the individual cultivates comprehension, empathy and social change. Harvey Milk proved this during the Gay Rights movement, when he encouraged exposing true identity for the purpose of progress and justice. At times, while writing, ironically, I exploit myself and my obsessions to affectingly illustrate common exploitations, such as the misuse of gender roles, the ravaging of the body (of both humans and animals) and our environment (resources and habitats) and the authority of pop culture and the media.
Personal experience, agenda and fixation function as tools of communication and campaign for the abovementioned topics. My schemas of justice and compassion ignite my creation. As a minority female, my perceptions of gender as burden might offer specific insight and legitimacy. This project intends to dissect as well as radiate the effect of assigning identity according to gender by honestly depicting human existence by way of memory and private contemplation. The exploitations of the environment and the body are portrayed through recollection, imagination and passion. My obsession with the current wrecking of ocean waters swimmingly aligns with and scaffolds the wrecking/utilization of the physical body. The corruption of the natural environment mirrors the corruption of the mortal self. Like gender roles assign identity, pop culture assigns identity and community via mass deliverance. Pop culture acts as a fountain of detail and context that cascades the concerns of the project. It catapults the issues of environmental and corporal misuse in my thesis with its widespread, iconic beacons. Pop is relatable and culturally confined, therefore it frameworks and authenticates contemporary human experience.
In order to express these precise issues brightly and profoundly, this pile of poetry defies the implication that poetry is simply literary. Though the interpretation of poetry remains seemingly cramped by the limitations of reading, I argue it is not. This poetry escapes the margins of language through innovation, imagination, connotation, connection and subversion. It also prospers from physical sensory image. Perhaps because of my involvement in ceramics and other modes of art, I prioritize texture, color and detail.
I argue that while my poetry may appear informal, it is actually quite formal. Unlike poetry that is manufactured by traditional form, my poetry is produced by organic evolution. At times, the work may appear disconnected or frayed. Inevitably though, just as varied materials or shapes create a sculpture, the odds and ends of these poems develop into large, vibrant concepts. They may appear in disarray, yet conceptually, they are organized like an organic body or a natural web.
A portion of the poems do follow traditional form, but the project bears new and experimental fruit worth pointing out. These do not fall under traditional poetic categories or labels, but they do have precise forms. Poetic techniques such as repetition, line break and negative space are specifically assigned duties like emphasis, rhythm and visual to perceptual instruction. Beats and placement of words or phrases trigger connections and reader transference. Words may be chiseled off, carved into a fragmented phrase for a pungent sensory effect. Or, a phrase might be repeated, then elongated and then repeated again for rhythm, tension or drama. Countable linguistic or imagistic patterns might entwine a piece. Also, structural habits, such as the use of the parenthetical as a detailed link, the ellipses as an ambiguous extender, or the rejection of grammar as a mode of expansion or controversy inexorably become reasonable and crucial. I am certain I create poems the same way I fashion a sculpture, organically but with obsessive exactitude.
A sample of a poem from this collection can be read in the link to the publication below.