Tricia Dearborn reflects on her new poem created as part of her Red Room Poetry Fellowship 2021 shortlist commission. 

My poem sequence ‘The family line’ takes its inspiration from the Red Room Poetry project Poetry Object. Here, the ‘object’ in question is the body, in the context of the family.

The sequence considers more than one kind of body. There is the human body described ‘politely’, the focus on euphemistic speech diverting attention from deeper problems within a family. There is the body as a source of comfort – and a target of ridicule. There is the individual in conflict with the ‘body’ of the family, with its unspoken rules and prohibitions; the ways in which this conflict can manifest in the individual as forms of physical distress. And there is the difficult choice to be faced when the conflict becomes impossible to ignore.

In the sequence, the protagonist switches between ‘I’, ‘you’ and ‘she’, reflecting different levels of distancing from the body and the self.