On Owning My Words and Voice

I was reluctant to share my poem with anyone or even tell people about today’s poetry reading.

Whenever you make an announcement about something, it always comes with expectations, either stated or unstated.

I anticipate the reaction I think I am going to get.

That reaction though? It’s really just my inner critic.

Since my poem doesn’t rhyme or follow any meter, a part of me felt that it was not really poetry. It was just a bunch of words broken into lines.

But I’m slowly beginning to see poetry in a different way. Poems can be epic. They can be short, like haiku. They can be anything really. They can be vignettes, like mine have been.

So, now that the reading has come and gone, I feel a bit more comfortable sharing the poem I wrote for the Muslim Voices Poetry Project.

Contextualizing The Self

I sometimes wonder what it would be like to live in a country in which I am not a minority – the so-called “Muslim World,” as “they” like to say.

Would I have the same convictions as I do now?

Would I have the same passions as I do now?

Would I even have the same opinion of Religion as I do now?

These are questions that come with no easy answers for me.

For I cannot know who I would have been had I been born in a different land…

Or a different gender…

Or wealthier…

Or poorer…

Or in a more pristine time.

I have come to accept that I am who I am because of where I am.

But, do those who label me as “the other” ever wonder

If they too might have been “the other” in another context?

Things are so much more easier in retrospect, no? :)

Although there were only a few people present at the reading, it ended up being good for me. I was less afraid to really let my voice shine as I read my own words.

Have you ever really heard yourself speak your own words? 

I’ve always been afraid of my voice. I love to sing. But after a certain age, I would only do so very quietly in my own room, closed, and preferably locked, when I knew for a fact my family was downstairs busy watching TV and would not be able to hear.

I would relish the rare occurrences I would find myself at home by myself. Even though I looked so forward to sing, I still couldn’t get myself to sing loud enough. I was afraid my neighbours would hear me (we didn’t even share walls)!

Even now, when I have to prepare for a presentation, I like to practice when Mr. Rafia is not at home.

I have no problem dressing like a cow in public, but when it comes to singing, or giving a speech, or reading my own poems, that’s when my shyness comes out at its most awkwardest.

Today was different though.

When I was standing up there this afternoon, I was like, “You know what? I’m gonna do my best to channel that inner story-teller that I’ve always wanted to bring out.” You ain’t gonna hear me on The Moth anytime soon, but I was less afraid of emoting, baring my soul in public.

Today, I felt like I truly owned my words. I wasn’t ashamed of them.

Will I write more poetry? Maybe. Maybe not. But if I decide not to, it won’t be because I’m afraid.

2 thoughts on “On Owning My Words and Voice

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