Worskshop Three: Identity

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Every day people attach labels to us.  Are we entrapped by these labels?  How deeply do they affect us?  Do we grow indifferent to them?  Do they affect us to the point that they seem to mould part of our "being" when we are with other people?  Do we wear "armours" to protect ourselves from these world’s assaults?  Do we put up facades to hide and protect the real "me"? It seems humans feel the urge to label other people, as if humans were commodities.  Why this maddening urge?  Yet, if on the one hand we object to these labels, we want to shake them off, we cannot be hypocritical and say that we do not attach labels ourselves.  We all do, consciously or unconsciously.
So who are we?  Are we what the others tell us we are (especially parents, relatives, friends, teachers)? Who are we really?  Do we know it ourselves? identity-fraud1
Sometimes we may feel entrapped by that obsessive labelling.  Sometimes we may think that when people label us as  "snooty", "a loser", "a moron", "big-headed", "coquettish", "shallow", "full of herself", "arrogant", "a troublemaker", "a fool", "a know-all", "grumpy", "a naysayer", "self-confident", "weird", "a loner", and many others you mentioned in class, they pigeonhole us and put us aside.  It is as if they were stealing part of our identity away from us. 
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Well creative writing certainly discloses aspects of ourselves we may not be aware of. 
Let’s start with the crazy (but meaningful) LETTER TO A DEAR OBJECT OF MINE and its reply.

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Dear Bike,
What would my life be without you? What a silly question! I am you and you are me (just like Catherine and Heathcliff ).  Most people identify me with you.  They think I am bizarre, a bit nutty, especially when it is freezing cold and they see me cycle you.  Me all bundled up, you as brisk as ever.  Students know when I am around, because of you.  You are different from other bikes.  First of all your pink flowery bags add a certain touch to your sporty demeanor.   They beautify you in an unmentionable way.  Then, you are not a city bike meant for posh ladies who ride it to show off down town Pordenone.  You are dynamic, agile.  You have never let me down and you have always been willing to go uphill, downhill, travel long distances, in all weather conditions.  To me you are freedom, to me you are my sparetime, to me you are a chance to work out, to me you are evidence and proof of my respect for nature, to me you are independence.  I fist saw one of your sisters in Chicago, that’s when I fell in love with you.  I cycled along Lake Michigan and I felt so good.  When I came back home I spoke about you and my husband made me a wonderful present: YOU.  I am not going to part from you, that’s for sure. 
Bye for now, my trustworthy mate.
I love you.
Cristiana

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Dear Cristiana,
Thank you your sweet words.  I thought I was just a means of transport for you.  I was not ware of how important I am to you.  Well, if you really care for me that much, why don’t you clean me now and then?  Sometimes I feel so filthy and this makes me feel ashamed of myself.  Cycling down town, when posh women’s bikes stare at me (and YES, they sneer at me) I feel horrible and this negative feeling is because of you! Then, sometimes you park me outside even if it is pouring with rain.  Is that love?  Not in the bike world.  Caring for us means doing for the others what is best for them!!! Sooner or later I will get rusty, the chain won’t work because of lack of oil, the tyres will crack: these are just some of the consequences of your lack of consideration for my needs.  Last but not least (I do not want to hurt your feelings!) you cannot use the gears uphill.  You are always making me suffer.  You cannot imagine how much I suffer because of your incompetence. 
All in all, however, I like you because you are always taking me out.  I am a FREE HAPPY BIKE.  I will be your bike forever and ever (or better, till death do us part!)
Love,
Your Bike


Then the "Who I am, Who I am not poem", our cry of protest against whoever limits our inborn freedom of being.  We fight back social limitations, yet some are too strong for some people.

I am not self-confident, it’s jsut that I do not want any of you to hurt me any longer. It’s my armour, it protects me from bastards and envious people.
I am insecure.  Insecurity to me does not have negative connotations (in my ideal world).  It means respect for the others, lack of arrogance, absence of patronizing attitudes.  It means being open to other people’s ideas and feelings.  Insecurity is a tip-toeing cat.  Security is a plodding ruthless leader crushing people. BUT, in this world where the arrogant, coarse and mediocre triumph, insecurity and self-confidence have been subverted. 
I am not a fully happy person.  You say I am always beaming? You say I am always looking at the positive side of things? It is too easy for you to see that.  You stop at apperances. You cannot go beyond the surface.  Wake up! Haven’t your yet realized that I do that for you!? I do not want to be a burden, I do not want to complain about life as lots of you do!
I’m happy to be alive, no doubt about it.  I cherish life, that’s why I respect nature.  BUT I do not wear blinkers, folks! If I did I would be blindly happy.  Since I don’t, I am not.  I see, observe life so closely, that lots of things appal me.  I feel nausaeted: I can’t stand YOUR hypocrisy, I can’t BEAR your injustices, I loathe YOUR incongruities and YOUR lack of coherence makes me puke!
So, listen to me, I am not happy, but I am happy.
Have you heard me? You moron.

You listened to some poems by Lanston Hughes.  He denounces discrimination and segregation.  But what does it mean being segregated or discriminated against?  We have all encountered the burden of being made feel different in life.  It has been imposed upon us as a heavy stone.  You are pointed at as different when you do not wear designer’s clothes in certain circles, when you attend a different school, when you do a job that is not considered "good enough" (thumb down), when you come from a country most people seem to dislike for whatever reason, when you …. (any shallow possible reason is good enough for somebody to put you aside).  Unfortunately, there are those who discriminate when a person is homosexual, when a person belongs to a different race than theirs, when a person is bound to a wheelchair, when a person is blind, when a person has a  supposedly "low IQ", when a person is not physically perfect (what the hell!).  How absurd!  How pathetically absurd and unnatural! Sooner or later we are all prejudiced against for whatever reason.  If humans could just learn from their own stupidity.  If only!


We are each burdened with prejudice; against the poor or the rich, the smart or the slow, the gaunt or the obese.  It is natural to develop prejudices.  It is noble to rise above them.  ~Author Unknown

Judgements prevent us from seeing the good that lies beyond appearances.  ~Wayne W. Dyer

Prejudices are the chains forged by ignorance to keep men apart.  ~Countess of Blessington

If we were to wake up some morning and find that everyone was the same race, creed and color, we would find some other causes for prejudice by noon.  ~George Aiken

One day our descendants will think it incredible that we paid so much attention to things like the amount of melanin in our skin or the shape of our eyes or our gender instead of the unique identities of each of us as complex human beings.  ~Franklin Thomas

Small is the number of people who see with their eyes and think with their minds.  ~Albert Einstein


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You know the task for our next workshop.  Wear the clothes of a prejudiced person, see the world through that person’s eyes and write your poem.  It may be a poem of  "protest" (anger oozes through your words), or a poem of "awareness" (you gently accompany the reader through the absurdity of people’s prejudice against you, just like Langston Hughes’s poems), or a poem of "assertion" (you are just proud of who you are and you show that pride, with no hesitations, yet with no arrogance).  You are a free being, so you are a free writer.  Choose the poem format that suits you best.  Enjoy it!

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3 risposte a Worskshop Three: Identity

  1. anonimo scrive:

    now that I see how you wrote the "who am I who am I not" poem, I think I wrote it wrong…..lol

  2. becreative scrive:

    Dear Alex,
    As I tried to make clear on different occasions, there is no "right" way of dealing with creative writing.  Your poem is your POEM, so this does not mean that the way I wrote it was the RIGHT way.  Not at all.  I told you your poem had to have the repetiont of "I am not…." and "I am ….".  You were free to write it in the way you deemed best for you.  After the "written message" activity (where everyone labelled one another) I wanted to respond to some of the comments some of you wrote about me "me being self-confident", etc. and my poem developed along those lines.
    Please post your poem without referring to the way I or the others write.  
    See you.

  3. anonimo scrive:

    Dear Drumsticks,
    I love you so much because since I didn’t know you i couldn’t understand what music is to me. The first time that I hold you in my hands I felt like I could play all kind of music, I felt it in my veigns. That was a strange feeling because I never thought that I would play the drums.
    My parents think that I love playing with drums because when I was little I lived in a flat and on the upper floor there was a drummer that kept playing the drums! I don’t know where the idea of playing the drums came from but I think you’re one of the most beautiful things that ever happened to me.
    ou will always be in my heart.
    Love xxx   
    Rossana

    Dear Rossana,
    I’m really happy to know that I’m so important to you. Thanks for your wonderful words. I must say that you should do more exercise! If you want to improve (and I know that you want) you have to spend more time on your homework, probably you have lots to do but I’m sure you can find five minutes!!!
    However continue to express yourself and use me more!
    I’m happy you finded me, I was waiting for you so long…but better now than never!
    Love you too!!
    Drumsticks  

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