You Wrote It
"How poetry helped me write my identity as a queer woman"
Poetry is my main form of self-expression. It’s how I learn about myself and my feelings and fall in love with myself all over again. I believe in getting to know oneself and I do that through writing. My poetry reflects many sides of who I am and my many identities. One of those identities took some time to accept.
A lot of my poetry is about characters, often based on the people who have taught me lessons throughout my life. Whether that be friends, family, or people I’ve been romantically interested in. When I started writing poems for my book, Into the Orange Grove: A Collection of Poetry, I was faced with a dilemma: How honest should I be?
I wrote poems about loving and losing male characters, female characters and characters whose genders are not specified. But I fully fell in love with my queer poems. My poem “Witch Doctor” is one of my favorites, capturing an unhealthy relationship built around a fantastical female love interest.
I didn’t stop there. Another poem, “Persephone,” tells the story of trying to help a girl who refuses help through subtle references to the Garden of Eden.
The most vulnerable part of the book, though, is the poem “Hurricane” and its sequel poem, “Goddess of the Rain.” These poems are based on my relationship with a girl who helped me through a hard time—only to disappear. Writing about her helped me see that my love for her happened, regardless of her gender. The poem helped me see that queer love is a part of my life and that in order to love that part of myself, it needed to be in my poetry.
I think writing out your feelings, whether in lyrics, poems or journaling, can be very healing. For any girls questioning—just writing out how you’re feeling can help you understand better. After I wrote my first draft of “Hurricane,” I was surprised by the overwhelming need to cry. I didn’t know I felt as strong as I did until I wrote the poem and my own words opened the floodgates. I brought the poem to a trusted mentor and he told me he could tell it was a poem I truly needed to write.
I write for fun sometimes, but other times I write to heal. When I wrote “Goddess of the Rain,” months had passed since writing “Hurricane” and my poetic ability had grown. My poems became more mature, and so did I. In the sequel poem I found that not only had I moved on, but that I had learned a lot about myself. I learned it’s okay to love whoever you love. That love can come as a surprise sometimes. And that’s okay.
Poetry should be written for the poet. I think the best art comes from a place of honesty, without worrying what others will think. I wrote “Hurricane” for myself, to know how I felt. I discovered I was hurting, not only because of the loss of love but because I hadn’t accepted that I *had* been in love.
Writing about queer love and my experiences helped me love the part of me that was uneasy. Acceptance takes time, but it is beautiful once you work towards it. True self-love does not just mean loving the parts of you that you can love easily. Once you begin to embrace the sides of yourself you are unsure of, you may find your heart even stronger than before.
Find Grace's collection of poetry HERE.