This chapter explores contemporary debates over the nature and position of identity. Many such debates pit “conceptualism” against voices of minorities, who note a regressive politics that aspires, from a position of relative privilege, to trivialize the need for and performance of identity altogether. Often what is missing in this debate is a compassionate recognition of the psychological context and realities that inform and validate the diction used to frame an argument. Poets discussed here include Vanessa Place and Layli Long Soldier. The chapter also takes up George Oppen’s notion of the self as “numerous” (its identity and nature embedded in a social context) as nuanced in ways that still recognize the self’s essential detachment and autonomy, however culturally conscribed and articulated.
KeywordsSelf Identity Conceptualism Oppen Long Soldier Poetry
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