"Filling a Body That's Yours" is a collection of poetry that celebrates queer survival and the fluidity and mutability of identity. The poems arise from personal experience and expand to the universal in order to question and critique constructs of mental illness, queerness, transness, and identity. Via intuitive imagistic shifts, unexpected language, and urgent vulnerability, the poems share a personal account of mental illness and treatment, and set out to critique the mental health industrial complex and shortcomings in language, psychiatry, and psychology. For this project, the collection of poems is coupled with a written analytical component that discusses the personal and theoretical backgrounds for the work, as well as poetics and influences. The essay specifically addresses three main themes that appear in the poems: queerness/gender, mental illness and treatment, and identity, using theorists such as Judith Butler and David Hume. Further, the essay provides personal background for the work and discusses poetic influences such as Sylvia Plath, Li-Young Lee, Claudia Rankine, and Norman Dubie. Both the poems and the essay, while addressing these themes, attempt to ask and examine questions such as: "Is my gender entirely mine? Was it thrust wholly or in part upon me? Do I choose to claim queerness, or is it innate?" In asking these questions, the poems challenge readers to consider how they came to understand their bodies as gendered, and what political ends their identities may serve. Ultimately, the poems and their theoretical counterparts complicate constructs we commonly accept as essential givens, and meditate upon timeless existential questions in new, visceral ways.
- Filling a Body That's Yours: a Consideration of Identity, Queerness, and Mental Illness
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