Motion in Poetry

Notes from poetry session of TCEA 2016

Yon Hui Bell, San Antonio College
“Cross Pollination” and Other Poems

did specifically write for this conference
the many faces/experiences of migration = theme
dominant issue in global and American politics

epigraphs introduce…
Where are you from? Question so frequent…

Hallie Raymond, Tarleton State U
“A Modern-Day Storybook Knight”

collection of poetry/prose/poetic prose
transition from childhood thinking about ideals and living them out

Belema Ibama, Texas Southern U
“Rooted” and Other Poems

orig from Nigeria, West Africa
visa office to now

He wore a hat when he came to America.
Sick smile from behind the glass window

Houston—the sweet that is not good for the teeth

What inspired you to write poems?
Belema Ibama: My journey, so write. Unique, but universal. Go back into the mind of myself as the child. Finally understanding and write it down before I forget.

Question: Write often on this subject?
BI: Yes.
Tend to write about foreigners’ experience in the US.
Experience of immigrant and foreigner.

Yon Hui Bell: When wrote specifically for conference, very interested in this issue because it has to do with identity. Raised by white, Republican, Trump supporters… The idea is that we are all migrants. As an adopted child, I feel like an immigrant.
Some way to understand we all are immigrants. Who is other? Shouldn’t exist.

Question: Taking on personas that were not you?
YHB: myself, lived in El Salvador… don’t speak Korean, Japanese, Chinese…
Hard for people to understand.
He experiences anti-immigration. Second part in second stanza. Not a brown invasion but a white invasion. All migrants. Interesting for him to have family gatherings with my family.
Stereotypes and divisions and prejudices.

Question: White woman born in US… doesn’t apply to me?
Always felt like new people.
First poem for this conference.
Others transitions and people coming and going from your life.

Hallie: writing happens at periods of transition, when I have something to say that needs to be said…

Question: Identity and googling…
Our identity immigrating to online. What might that bring up as well?
Before the internet, we had identity from family, social groups, community.
How has that played a part in your identity?

YHB: okay relationship with tech
Benefits to it
Social media and social justice on the internet, being able to capture and transmit instances of injustice so that everyone knows about
Went viral
Forgotten and moved on
Not quite sure… global identity sense but can oversaturate you till you have no identity.
Flickering in the spaces. Nothing substantial.
People’s connection to earth.

Question: title is rooted, but poem not rooted, unrooted

BI: When I came back to Texas, ages 9-16 in Texas, then finished high school and degree in Nigeria. Houston is hotter than Nigeria.
Aspects… so many things about Houston that remind me of Nigeria. That hot feeling.

Identity—fortunate to know because I am full African.
I know my identity. The original part of them.
It’s a good thing.

Find their origins. Helpful. Gives closure.

Particular audience you were considering? What audience were you thinking?
Hallie: Didn’t enter my head. Didn’t know where I could ever share any of this.
Just thoughts that come into my head and I have to give voice to them somehow.
Don’t know who needs to hear them.

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