Embrace Language & Culture in Poetry

Bilingualism in poetry is a literary device to communicate the narrator’s cultural identity. One form is to have a side by side translation of the poem in different languages. The other form is code switching. It’s the mix of two languages together in one piece of writing.

The first poems I wrote were about culture and hijab. I unintentionally abandoned it and wrote poetry about emotions and nature. I found my way back to writing about culture but I was uncomfortable being vulnerable and sharing my faith. I felt uncomfortable to use words I knew from other familiar languages. I either avoided the topic I wanted to write or replaced the other language with English words.

As the voice became louder I stopped holding myself back and filtering my poetry. By letting myself write whatever I wanted I started feeling comfortable with vulnerability. I felt fulfilled in sharing myself and my experiences.

When you’re ready let yourself explore language and different topics. If you share bilingual poems: have a side by side translation of the poem. Also have a glossary at the back of the book of the words and phrases used.