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Bridging Two Different Lands: Identity & Place

Ahead of her upcoming workshop, Romalyn Ante writes of the power of place in making us who we are


The city teaches the man

– Simonides


The concepts of place and identity have always been interlinked, whether in geography, environmental psychology, urban planning, or ecocriticism. In this one-day workshop we will explore how our identity is influenced by and responds to a physical place. I will share with you practical techniques, such as the use of certain psychological tools, to explore how places convey certain aspects of our identity; these tools helped me craft my Primers Volume Three poems. We will deepen our understanding of how poetry bridges contrasting concepts such as home and the unfamiliar, loss and recovery, and lamentation and joy.

Geographers use the term ‘topophilia’ (literally ‘love of place’) to describe the intricate emotions and meanings associated with specific places that, for many reasons, hold particular significance. We all have our own special place to which we have a distinct attachment, a sense of self, a sense of belonging.

In preparation for this workshop, I have been reading essays about identity and place, and revisiting the works of Naomi Shihab Nye, Kei Miller, Li-Young Lee, Nick Lantz, Yehuda Amichai, and Marjorie Evasco. These are just few examples of poets whose work we will look at and actively discuss during the workshop.

We will look at how poetry explores the bond between person and place. We will look at how poetry responds to ordinary and emblematic landscapes – those structures that are so powerfully symbolic they come to stand for entire cities and communities (like the Eiffel Tower in Paris, or Tower Bridge in London), experiment on the use of familiar and foreign vocabularies, and find practical ways of developing our own language of identity and place.

All of us have a place or two that moulded us into the person we are now. Remember these places – they will help us craft poems that showcase our unique identity, and even bring out stories which may be unknown to us or which we may have forgotten. I look forward to meeting you on October 20th.


Explore the effects of travel and place on your poetic identity with PRIMERS winner Romalyn Ante. Click here for more information.

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