WHY I WRITE ~ Arisa White
Photo by Sven Wiederholt
I write because I’m trying to love others and myself.
It is a way of getting to.
It’s an opportunity to try on humanity, from varying points of view. If I can write from the perspective of the murdered and murderer, I can discover in myself something I did not know.
To get to a place where I am not ashamed of my secrets.
To not judge.
It’s how I keep myself sane and honest. Growing up with six other siblings, a mother who chose abusive boyfriends as partners, I needed a space to breathe, to remind myself that I had a voice that could be listened to, even if it was only by me. And despite the lies my mother told herself and us to permit and excuse such violence in our home, writing allowed me my own truth.
Writing is raising the silenced and inaudible voices to heard.
I’ve chosen poetry to help me navigate the questions I ask about people and the things people do, and the systems that we create to keep people doing the same, often, unhealthy things they do.
I can’t let things go: I like the challenge of finding the words to remake the moment again. The constant translation of events, situations, and emotions keep my brain turned-on.
I like to be turned-on.
It is truly, the times when I feel safe. Free to take risk, to emote, and to be led by imagination without fear.
Sometimes, I need a knife, a lover, a priest, a compass, and the poem offers direction, listens, loves, and stabs.
It allows me to not be while still being. When you walk in the world as black, woman, queer, poor, and the such, you get read before you reveal who you are. And sometimes, there is no space to learn who you are without being constantly challenged by assumptions, stereotypes, and expectations to perform or produce in a certain way because of those social identities. So writing is restorative, recuperative and permits me to ask myself vulnerable questions about my own who-ness and humanness.
I love it.