Self Image and Poetry: Poet Selfies

selfie-1947“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs.” – Ansel Adams

via Lithub

What is the relationship between poetry and the selfie? This was one of the questions I sent a number of poets working in different modes. I said they could answer the question, or not, or if they wanted they could include some other type of text. I said they could interpret the term “selfie” as they saw it. I expected an array of interpretations and visions. The poets did not let me down. I was moved by each performance of the self, with their particular risks and vulnerabilities and joys and tragedies. I was fascinated by the ways in which the selfies expanded and warped with the accompanying texts, and how, the longer I looked, the selfies themselves became a kind of poetry, a song of the selfies. I then started to think about our inability to escape the performance of the self, either in language, or image, or in any other form we create—no matter how much one longs for the other, for the skies. What, or who, is waiting for us on the other side of the mirror? Perhaps to really see, we must first witness our selfie.

Eileen Myles


Well a poem might be the inside of the mind and the selfie is a portrait of the head that thunk. I was trying to woo a woman who lives in another city. So I was thinking about her and of course wondering what kind of distress and yet intactness would make me attractive to her. I don’t know why I endlessly appear in American Apparel t-shirts I bought when I was living in San Diego. Am I the only poet who doesn’t think about poetry all the time and just has a life and that is what my poetry is all about.

Ronaldo Wilson


I am thinking about the migratory, and the mask, what we wear to be seen, what we put on, in transit, the incomplete, here, just waking up, realizing what I hope to record: a series of transitions, what isn’t working, that is not to be gotten, nor to be reckoned for anyone’s satisfaction, attack, or query, but what I, and only I, discover as I meander in and from my home to where?

Joshua Jennifer Espinoza


selfies are a way for me, as a trans woman, to gain some control over how my image is presented to the world. when i am in public i have little to no control over how i will be seen or what sorts of reactions my body might elicit from others. this sense of having no control pervades my life to the point that i mostly feel alienated from my own body. recently i’ve been taking more revealing selfies and using them in my work. images like the one above feel to me like a hesitant and somewhat ambivalent assertion of a self that is fraught with all that being a trans body means in this world. i don’t know if selfies are inherently radical but they do play a role in my survival.

Ana Carrete


had been trying unsuccessfully to think i looked cute in selfies for days. had been failing. had been trying to take a picture of the gold hoops my mom gave me. they belonged to my grandma. my mom never wore them because she said she didn’t have the ears for them. i’d felt self conscious in the past about wearing hoops. finally decided to just “let go” and enjoy them. in this selfie you can see i’m staring at myself on the screen perhaps trying too hard to show off my hoops and hair.

Die Dragonetti


I document myself compulsively and how I take selfies is a facet of that; as such there are 100 versions of this pic in my Google drive. This is a picture of a picture that was frozen on my laptop screen. It was accidental, never meant to be a picture at all. I was about to Skype Bunny Rogers, so the webcam was on, and the computer froze on me, mid-action. You can see the reflections of my chromebook, iPod, and self taking the picture in it.

Feliz Lucia Molina


A selfie with someone who i am with everyday. a selfie with someone who sees me everyday. a selfie with someone who is another self of me.

another self with me. an other self.

Román Luján

selfie for kate

For someone who almost never takes pictures of himself it’s funny how many unintended selfies I have on my computer. Most of them were taken when I clumsily opened the camera while trying to do something else. The green light appeared and, oh well, I just clicked the thingy. The morning I took this one I hadn’t slept well and I still hadn’t had coffee. I remember not being very happy about my incoming gray hair (I’m on better terms with it now though). You can’t see it but behind me there’s a poster of the Chilean poet Nicanor Parra—who, by the way, is a hundred years old—making fun of my serious look.

Ana Božičević


What were you thinking about when you took your selfie? What inspired you?
Screen as a two-way mirror, the kind through which you can step into some neverland. A twin planet, rendered somehow. We face the painting, mirror, window, phone. Taking a selfie, showing your face to someone, is entering a circuit of representation and reflection, our faces facing the screens that let us face us. Duckface and surprised-face as the masks of comedy/tragedy. The screen between a magic glass through which we can see each other, the photograph gazing back and so on, like if the two sides of the coin could face each other through its thickness. The coin might have value—we just don’t know what it is. I took a selfie about this with Ryan Doyle-May.

Becca Klaver


So much of being myself is spent looking out at the world; so little is spent staring in the mirror or flipping the cam around. Because I am a woman who walks through a city every day, I know my body is viewed by others more than it is by me. Made self-conscious, I pretend to window-shop just to make sure I don’t look terrible in the darkened reflection. But because I am a poet and full of longing, mostly I stare at the sky all the time, and sometimes whatever I see matches me. Pink, a color often derided, is also in nature everywhere, especially at sunset. Pink is all over my body—on the insides, too. I’m not a real #selfie poet. I’d rather look up and tell you what I see, and sometimes I see a floating pink puff I call my self.



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