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ODE TO MY FORBIDDEN SELF by Isabella Rosario

To melodrama, to snot crying over old films, to sticking pill capsules beneath my tongue and not swallowing. Ode to the strange satisfaction of cancelling plans. Ode to my secondhand green flannel with the hole in the elbow, to how all my favorite clothes once belonged to strangers. Ode to sneaking two free samples. Ode to holding you on alternating twin-XL beds. Ode to how you don’t kiss me anymore. Ode to being the clingy one, the desperate one. To you jacking off on me and not seeing me. Ode to writing self-indulgent poetry, and each journal I filled two pages of. Ode to half-read novels. Ode to pulling my hair out, to biting off the follicles. Ode to the bloody tissues I stuffed under the mattress. Ode to my broken purple lipstick. Ode to the McDonald’s drive thru next to the cornfield at 4 AM, to hating myself every time I eat meat, to taking NyQuil during the day. Ode to not wearing a bra to church. Ode to loving you more than myself, and ode to the smallness of that feat. Ode to getting high at family Christmas. Ode to walking downtown alone at night on purpose. Ode to moldy pale pink wallpaper, to refusing to take it down. Ode to my bald Barbie dolls. Ode to selfish words I can’t swallow, to banging my wrist on the corner of the desk, to only being interesting to you with black-blue bruises. Ode to loving my crooked fingers. Ode to driving to The Kooks with all four windows down. Ode to the yellow hair bow you gave me.

Ode to losing it.


What does the title, “Emerging poet,” mean to you?

I only started writing poetry less than a year ago and was first published less than a month ago, so I must admit I was not aware of the term until I submitted to this project. But when I hear the words “emerging poet,” my first thought is, “emerging” from where, exactly? And is this place where the poet “emerges” from, whether it be obscurity or some underground fairy land of Undiscovered Poets, somewhere they are precarious to be thrown back into? How long is it before a poet is no longer “emerging,” and who decides upon that time frame?

Do you consider yourself an “emerging” poet? Why or why not?

I suppose I wouldn't object to being called one, but I do think it's a bit of an odd phrase. I mean, I'm new to this. You could say I'm a “new poet.” Some synonyms for "new" are "current," "original," "fresh." I think I’d rather be “new” than "emerging" from some weird poet abyss that a few stuffy literary critics may or may not be so gracious to pull me out of.

What do you think it takes to be “recognized” in the poetry community?

Hmm...chapbooks? Winning prestigious prizes? I figure if you've been published in Poetry Magazine, you have thus been recognized. Also, it's not untrue that many artists peak in popularity after they die, so that's grim. Of course, while recognition is great, I don't believe people should make art solely to gain prestige. In a perfect world, people would be recognized on the merits of their art alone, but this is not a perfect world (and if I may say so, poetry is probably more interesting for it). 4. How do you think power politics shape the poetry community?

How do you think power politics shape the poetry community?

Art is still subjective by nature, but how people's art moves through the world and gains exposure seems more formulaic. At the end of the day, publishing is about what an editor or judge likes, and so those liked poets will gain accolades and be the next editors or judges who decide what they like/if work gets published, and so on and so forth. And because poetry has been historically dominated by white men, it would make sense that work from white men would continue to be at the helm of the poetry community—not necessarily due to any kind of malicious bias, but rather because people relate more easily to those who share their experiences. It's more difficult for some poets to break through that mold, and I think stating that is fair when we discuss "renowned" vs. "emerging" poets.

What does community mean to you?

To me, a community is a group of people who care about similar subjects and want to mutually thrive in their interests through human connection. A community is a good place in which people hold each other accountable, but still allow them to grow—to ask questions, to always be learning. I hope to always be learning.


ISABELLA ROSARIO is a second-year student at the University of Iowa and a journalist at the The Daily Iowan. Her work has been published in Noble / Gas Qtrly. She tweets @isabellacyt.


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