Audre Lorde would boldly proclaim, in an essay of the same title, that “poetry is not a luxury.” In this quote, Lorde speaks to poetry as a necessity, as an outlet for women in order to speak their truths and subvert the oppressive, misogynistic ideologies which dictate and co-opt their voices and experiences. My thesis project was a necessary act of excavation and reclaiming of words from antiquated and problematic texts and novels in order to find my own voice, and obtain for myself, a healthy working definition of romantic love and erotic desire.
In obtaining my material from these antiquated texts, these source books themselves became equally important in helping me to gleam insight into the toxic narratives on love and female desire which I had ascribed to and internalized. As I cut away at the texts, selecting the portions which reflected the mental process of self-assessment and reflection on instances with love or desire, I was similarly excavating these toxic narratives from my repertoire of certainties.
These found-text poems were then combined with images of sculptures which acted as metaphor for thought processes associated with self-reflection, transformation, or the physiological by-product of immersing myself into these topics. Greek sculptures exemplify my projections of romantic or sexual ideals, images of fire and thorns reflect natural process of regrowth and self-protection, and Rodin sculptures reflect upon the felt experiences of a fractured self, unrequited longings and partial-emergence of a new self.
My process of cutting text from old books in order to create poetry was substantiated by an avid research-based practice of exploring a body of poetry, novels and sociopolitical literature on the topics of romance, desire, and intersectionality, typically uncelebrated within various canons of literature. I drew inspiration to be publically vulnerable and emotive with these topics by reading poetry and novels by authors such as James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Maggie Nelson, and Robin Coste Lewis. The essays and literature by such writers as bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Sara Ahmed, and Eli Clare provided me the insight of loves and desires typically uncelebrated or stigmatized within Western Culture.
The decision to bind the final poems into an artist publication was made in order to preserve the text-collages as the originals are not meant to be secured down or finalized, and to provide the reader with an intimate reading experience with the work. This creative decision was made to reflect my ideals around romantic love or erotic desire, as I do not wish to secure them with certainty, rather, I wish to leave them susceptible to growth, change, or adaptation in order to cultivate a healthy, reciprocal definition of love that may translate to all connections with other beings in my life.