‘I, Migrant?’ is a narrative poetry sequence that explores themes of language, culture, identity and belonging through the eyes of an Australian living in Den Haag, The Netherlands. The speaker in the poems faces challenges such as seeking work and making friends in a context where she does not speak the dominant language, Dutch. This proves far from easy, destabilising her sense of identity. She questions where and how she can belong. Reluctant to join what she considers “the white ghetto of Den Haag,” the speaker initially attempts to assimilate herself into Dutch culture, but later finds solace in a community of other expats. Within this community, national identities become exaggerated and people morph into stereotypes. The speaker increasingly defines herself as “Australian,” performing this identity both publicly and in private. Beneath the surface there bubbles, however, an awareness that she is acting out a myth. A more genuine sense of belonging emerges, unexpectedly, in an Asian food court, where she converses in Dutch with staff who also speak it as their second language. The speaker concludes that identity is located in language. It is therefore neither fixed nor singular, but multiple and forever changing.
Poetry, Autobiography, Culture, Identity, Language, Belonging