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Objectification

(Written for NYPS)

It is human nature to align the unknown with the pre-known,

To put everything into comforting categories,

set clearly defined boundaries

to clearly defined spaces

within clearly defined boxes

–all based on relevance to the matter at hand –

whether being called out on the street,

or by every relative you greet,

or an angry ink stained marksheet,

your real personality becomes discreet.

But I object, to being reduced to a single object, because,

Objectively speaking:

I am more than just a woman, a body, a pass certificate, a number, or a not-so-glowing CV, there are other things to use, if you want to objectify me.

I am sharp pieces of coral from a Thai lagoon, crystals from the heart of the mountains, twigs from the Redwood forests, twisted seashells from an isolated beach, feathers from pillow fights and migratory flights, and the brochures from every single aquarium I’ve been to.

My substance is in a Ziploc bag full of the powdery sand from a southern coastline, and a cable car ticket bought with coins from a country I don’t live in anymore.

These are the objects that define me; that I cling to, and collect, from the places I’ve been, and the people I’ve met.

I’m a bit like a refrigerator door, covered in magnets from every visit, travel, experience and more – and just like the soul of the fridge is the food within, my objects have spirit too, just beneath their skin

In the warmth of a scarf crocheted by my mother, sixteen years ago for a Minnesotan winter.

My very first formal blazer, which my younger sister wears now, because these arms never stopped getting longer and longer and clothing can’t cover these wrists anymore.

Just like the wires that once shaped my grin-

Who I am is VERY visible in

The DVD of my sixth grade school play, where I spoke with a quivering voice, accented, confused about which better to say:

“Vande Mataram, or ‘God bless the USA’

 

For growth, all you need see, is the scraps of paper I saved from grade three-idyllic nature poems I wrote, about crunchy leaves on a forest floor, from long ago, back before – I discovered that poetry could be so much more.

 

So rather than demanding ‘relevant’ information,

That doesn’t really matter, to objectify me

Take, instead my box of metaphors, assortment of things

I don’t mind being identified

As seashells and souvenirs and butterfly wings.

 

I object

To being reduced to just a single object,

Because objectively speaking, I am all of these, and all of me is relevant, and I am an Aristotelian being

-With both matter that forms me and and a form that matters,

And YOU

With your leering eyes or interview questionnaire

Cannot take that

Away from me.

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Words

I like words, I love words, I love the ways you can pace them, a few at a time, side by side so they rhyme. When you string them together like beads on a cold, metallic chain, or as exuding warmth, like the huffing cabooses of a long, winding train.

It’s amazing how one string of speech can be sharp, and too short to go all the way around your neck, so it chokes you, possibly to death, leaving you gasping for breath, yet another’s words can easily slide over your head and proudly rest, glittering necklace adorning your chest.

But what’s remarkable is the power behind the words that makes them so specific yet diverse, how the same word can be spat out in a fit of rage, meant to insult and degrade, but also be sweet, like vengeance at last, or kind, comforting, as if to soothe shattered glass.

There are words that trigger anxiety and dread, and also words that make you wish the speaker were dead, or perhaps, alive, but with those words forever unsaid.

A single word can incite waves of nostalgia, or inside jokes, heartache and longing, set old feelings awoke, or can be a beginning, in either heart or wallet broke.

Words can hit crowds and change minds for the better, influence our opinions, views and feelings, down to the letter. But wielding this power, utilizing these tools, takes responsibility, morals, and intellect; it’s not meant for fools –  such as, certain “great” people who then, claim to want to make the rest “great, again”. Those, who, on the tides of opinions rose, to power, to power, but by stepping on other toes, and when they take words? Then these combinations of sounds or symbols are used and used and used to spread negativity and misunderstandings and abuse, and for what? Temporary satisfaction? Fleeting dominance, fleeting fame, when will you, up on your throne, realize that this isn’t a game? It may be great to go viral, have the whole world know your name, but if you can’t use that for good, it’s not just a waste, but also a shame.

Your words have the power to go to real people, so why wish them ill? You won’t feel the result of your own hatred, but someone, somewhere, will.

There’s no synonym for the word, “word”, and that’s significant to me, it means words are all we have, and our usage of them is what we’re known to be.

Words can make or break a person; they can make or break your day. So be careful how you wield them, because, after all:

you are what you say.

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A Foray Into Spoken Word:

In June 2014, I was introduced to an art form- Performance Poetry. While the poetry bit was not new to me, the performance aspect of it definitely was. To quote Sarah Kay, “I felt that my two secret loves, poetry and theater, had come together, had a baby, a baby I needed to get to know. So I decided to give it a try.” If that wasn’t already enough, binge-listening to Sarah Kay’s work sold the deal.

Fast forward two years to today, and I’ve just come back from representing my college at the National Youth Poetry Slam, the first inter-collegiate event of its kind in this country. If nothing else, this concept was a clear sign that poetry, Spoken Word in particular, is powerful- and is not something to be taken lightly. There is nothing more surreal or magical than being in the same room as more than a thousand other people who have the same passion for words as you do. Watching artists well known in the poetry circle from not just your own locality, city, state or country, but also the entire world, LIVE, is an incredible experience, and an unbelievably inspiring one too.


Poetry is powerful. Poetry has no borders. Poetry is transcendent. Poetry brings people, lovers, friends, languages, enemies, cultures, religions, genders, and every other distinguishing factor together. Poetry, when given out to people who want to listen, can spread awareness and exposure, set moods and influence opinions, create and destroy, teach and unlearn, and evolve. Words are unbelievably lyrical units of language, and the finest proof of human advancement. Words are beautiful things, in fact I have felt enough about them to write poem after poem chronicling their magic.

We’re all poets and artists, we just don’t acknowledge or express it. Pick up that pen, slide your heavy fingers over that keyboard. Put your mind’s whirlwinds into words – say what you can’t say out loud, what you can’t keep within, what you only feel comfortable thinking about in the dead of the night, anything, but express. Create, express and inspire. Listen to other people. Get inspired. Let your environment weld itself with the fire of the neurons in your brain, and even the dying embers or sputtering sparks of creativity will blaze brightly.Write about what you know. Write about what you don’t. Write about what you wish you did. Invoke emotion in mirth and empathy and sadness. Show it to people, or don’t, if you’d prefer not to. Use it, whether as catharsis, to put out flames that burden your mind, or as a foray into creation, to fan them, until they burn out all that must go, and replace them with newly formed phoenixes of inspiration, ready to take flight from the ashes and spread their wings to every corner of your insides and beyond.

Everyone has the beginnings of vibrancy within them. Poetry need not be aesthetic or eloquent to be impactful or good. Poetry need not have a goal or a purpose, and nor do we.

Sometimes, poetry just is.