This week, the reading from Feminism for Real was four poems by Nimikii Couchie, loon clan from Nipissing First Nation, age sixteen. By her own description, she is an artist who, in addition to poetry, is also involved in dance and music. She works with her grandmother, a professional artist. “For me, writing is a personal expression of who I am,” Couchie writes in her introduction to the four selections included in Feminism For Real (p. 61-65). I’ll share one of the poems, “Crisp Early Morning.”
CRISP EARLY MORNING
by Nimikii Couchie
From up above the crow throws his berries at me.
I lay down beneath the crow
trying to relax,
The bird continues to throw his berries at me,
I jolt, feeling startled,
I feel the cool breeze on the bottoms of my feet,
on the left side of my face I feel the chill wind
from beneath me I feel the cold fresh ground hold me up,
up above the crow continues to throw his berries,
twitching, but struggling to ignore him
the annoying sound gets more violent,
the bird looks angry,
he gets louder and louder and continues to repeat,
He will not stop till I show my anger,
He gets louder and louder and continues to repeat,
He will not stop till I show my discomfort,
He feeds off my anger,
but I will not engage
It has been an interesting exercise for me to read the contributions to Feminism for Real and consider all of the different ways in which the contributors situate themselves within and against various communal identities. How do they choose to identify themselves, either in their contribution or their author biography? I am in the midst of writing a series of blog posts about turning thirty over at the feminist librarian and the one I wrote for this week was about identity and how we understand ourselves and our identities over time. When I was sixteen, how did I situate myself? What identity communities did I have relate myself to? What creative activities did I describe as priorities in my life, and what sort of vocation did I have aspire to? These are the questions I’ve been mulling over as I put my posts together, and these are questions that a lot of the authors whose pieces appear in Feminism For Real are also considering.
What aspects of yourself do you feel are salient when you’re crafting an introduction or biographical sketch for yourself? Has it changed over time? The author’s bio I wrote for Harpyness in January, for example, situates me in terms of geography (where I live and have lived), politics (both my family’s and my own), my sexual orientation/identity, the fact I am in an intimate relationship, and my professional/scholarly interests. When I was sixteen, my experience as a homeschooler would have been included — possibly primary — and feminism would likely have been implicit but unidentified (I was still at the age where I assumed “everyone” left-liberal was more or less feminist). History and writing would have been prominent, though my writing tended toward fantasy fiction less than nonfiction. At that point I saw my career choices as about equally divided between the public history (museum) professions and bookselling and writing. Significantly absent from my adolescent self-conception would have been awareness of class (middle) and race (white), national identity (Anglo-American), or religion (Christian), aspects of my life that I still think of as “secondary” despite the fact that they have likely shaped my experience in invisible but fairly important ways. I also didn’t, at that time, think about sexual identity per se as a part of my public presentation of self. I had inklings of my desires, but those were feelings I shared largely in very private settings and would not have included “bisexual” or “queer” in any self-description, in large part because I didn’t have those terms available in my vocabulary for describing sexual identity; I thought my choices were “lesbian” or “straight.”
Anyway … enough about me, what about you? Consider this an open thread, folks, to discuss whatever aspects of identity you feel are (or have been) salient when you present yourself to the world.
Join me next Tuesday for thoughts on “AQSAzine: Muslims Speaking for Ourselves” by the AQSAzine Collective.