our words make worlds

The arrival to writing

Title: The arrival to writing: Of the (non-)sacrifice of language
Author: Jasmina Bolfek-Radovani, University of Westminster
Session: Embodiments (15:30-17:30, Wednesday 13 June 2018)

Both as a multilingual subject and a researcher, I have always been preoccupied with the question of multilinguality and how it affects the creative process of writing. This presentation is the result of both my academic reflections on language and (multilingual) identity and my own experience as a multilingual poet. It inscribes itself within the larger question of the relationship between language, identity and culture in the postcolonial context and how this relationship affects the creative process of poetry writing.

I began writing multilingual poetry three and a half years ago. For a very long time, I could not choose my language of writing. I am originally from Croatia and have a multicultural background (Algerian mother and Croatian father). I moved to London in 1995. I had Croatian, French and, later, English at my disposal as writing tools, however, choosing one language for me always meant sacrificing my other languages, other cultures, other identities, other parts of Self. Only after I decided that I would not or did not have to choose a language in order to write, did I “arrive to writing”, or more precisely, did I arrive to writing poetry. The process of writing multilingual poetry is for me a poetic and linguistic experimentation, a play with language and a language (inter)play. Each of the languages I inhabit has its own timbre, voice, rhythm, it has its own harmonies and melodies, its own colours. Each language mediates my experience(s) of the world differently. In this presentation, I concentrated on sharing my own writing process based on some examples of multilingual poems I have written. I attempted to show how this process has enhanced the language of my poetry and how it has influenced its form and voice. I believe this form of writing brings to the fore the idea of the ‘territory’ of language as the only possible space to embrace by any writer working across languages and cultures.