I was ashamed to bring mystery, monks, and honey together in a room until Mary Ruefle showed me how it could be done. Until she showed me why it SHOULD be done–to let our fascinations rub shoulders in a room until the friction becomes a poem.
Audre Lorde – Sister Outsider
This helped me understand intersectionality in a way that continues to inspire my poetics. I think Lorde’s ability to poem complexity, and to demand a space in which to honor her own voice (while acknowledging she will lose the “belongingness” of community in doing so) changed what I need and expect from poetry. I distrust demagogues. I don’t admire the performance of pain in a culture that monetizes our ability to entertain and distract consumers. Lorde does not call me un-american. Lorde encourages me to stay outside so I can tell the disowned story, the life not sold to others.”
I cannot think of a more important poet that Anzaldua when it comes to understanding the unstable landscapes in which we find ourselves. In “Borderlands/La Frontera”, the lexicon of borders and displacement is developed in all its complexity and richness. Language rights serve as a mechanism against cultural erasure and dispossession; I find myself returning to Anzaldua to inform my current writing between the languages of Alabamian and Romanian.
I’ve come to believe it’s unethical to write about the female body without studying the ways it has been used to imprison us. And the ways in which women assist in the structural maintenance of patriarchy. It takes more courage to refuse laurels than to wear them. The poets I admire more have turned away worldly success as defined by the gatekeeping authorities. They have refused money and prizes out of fides to truth.
I cross my heart and swear never to forget. Any of it.
Alina Stefanescu was born in Romania and raised in Alabama. A finalist for the 2019 Kurt Brown AWP Prize, the 2019 Greg Grummer Poetry Prize, the 2019 Frank McCourt Prize, and the 2019 Streetlight Magazine Poetry Contest, Alina won the 2019 River Heron Poetry Prize. www.alinastefanescuwriter.com firstname.lastname@example.org