Poems about Identity

The Legend by Garrett Hongo

‘The Legend’ by Garrett Hongo speaks on themes of alienation and the struggle of immigrants within the United States. It focuses on the symbolic death of an older, Asian man in Chicago.

The Legend by Garrett Hongo Visual Representation

Exile by Julia Alvarez

‘Exile’ by Julia Alvarez is a narrative depiction of the poet’s childhood memories of leaving the Dominican Republic for the United States.

Exile by Julia Alvarez Visual Representation

Docker by Seamus Heaney

‘Docker’ is a 1966 poem by Seamus Heaney which depicts the life of a dockworker in Belfast and explores his personal and religious sense of discord.

Docker by Seamus Heaney Poem Visual Representation

The Wedding by Moniza Alvi

‘The Wedding’ by Moniza Alvi depicts a wedding ceremony and a bride’s apprehensive approach to her new home in England and her new English family. 

The Wedding by Moniza Alvi Visual Representation

Adolescence by W.H. Auden

‘Adolescence’ by W.H. Auden is an interesting and complex poem. In it, the speaker analyzes and describes the life and experiences of a young man.

Adolescence by W.H. Auden Visual Representation

Begotten by Andrew Hudgins

‘Begotten’ appears in the American poet Andrew Hudgins’ poetry collection The Glass Hammer: A Southern Childhood (1994). This poem is about a child finding his resemblance to the other members of his family.

Begotten by Andrew Hudgins Visual Representation

The Clown’s Wife by John Agard

‘The Clown’s Wife’ by John Agard explores the theme of duality through a wife speaking about her clown husband and herself.

The Clown's Wife by John Agard Visual Representation

Flounder by Natasha Trethewey

‘Flounder’ by Natasha Trethewey uses a flounder as a metaphor to convey a child’s struggle with her mixed-race identity.

Flounder by Natasha Trethewey Visual Representation

Quivira City Limits by Kevin Young

‘Quivira City Limits’ is a poem about the poet Kevin Young’s nostalgia concerning his childhood days in Topeka, Kansas. Though he was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, he had grown a deep attachment with the lush fields of the city precincts.

In a Dark Time by Theodore Roethke

‘In a Dark Time’ by Theodore Roethke is a powerful, short poem about identity. The speaker contends with their mental health while exploring their darkness.

in a dark time by theodore roethke

My Father by Peter Oresick

‘My Father’ by Peter Oresick is a poem that delves into the narrator’s relationship with his father. The narrator is regretful that his father’s pain created a wall between them, and he yearns to better understand him.

My Father by Peter Oresick Visual Representation

Two Women by Marcus Wilcox

‘Two Women’ by Marcus Wilcox is a thoughtful and complex poem about identity. The speaker spends the text discussing the lives of two different women.

two women by marcus wilcox

Parade’s End by Daljit Nagra

‘Parade’s End’ was published in the British poet Daljit Nagra’s debut collection “Look We Have Coming to Dover!” published in 2007. This poem taps on the themes of racism and the suffering of Asian immigrants in the UK in the 20th century.

Parade’s End by Daljit Nagra Visual Representation

White Lies by Natasha Trethewey

‘White Lies’ by Natasha Trethewey is a poetic exploration of racial identity in the American South through three lies a girl tells about being white.

White Lies by Natasha Trethewey Visual Representation

XIV by Derek Walcott

‘XIV’ appears in Derek Walcott’s collection of poems “Midsummer”. This poem features the glorious days of Walcott’s childhood, especially how they gathered around his mother to hear stories at the stroke of eve.

XIV by Derek Walcott Visual Representation

Once Upon a Time by Gabriel Okara

‘Once Upon a Time,’ written by the Nigerian poet Gabriel Okara, is a satirical poem on the modern way of greeting someone. The lack of compassion, simplicity, and brotherhood is portrayed in this poem.

Once Upon a Time by Gabriel Okara Visual Representation

No More Boomerang by Oodgeroo Noonuccal

‘No More Boomerang,’ a poem by the Aboriginal Australian political activist and poet Oodgeroo Noonuccal (also known as Kath Walker) features how the aboriginal culture is in crisis for the growing materialism and colonial hegemony.

No More Boomerang by Oodgeroo Noonuccal Visual Representation

I Am! by John Clare

‘I Am!’ by John Clare is a powerful poem about a speaker’s struggle with depression, loneliness, and a desire to find peace in Heaven. 

A Mark of Resistance by Adrienne Rich

‘A Mark of Resistance’ by Adrienne Rich is a poem about individual resistance. The poet voices her solidarity with those who face discrimination from society.

Identity by Abhimanyu Kumar

‘Identity’ by Abhimanyu Kumar is a relatable poem that explores themes of memory, identity, and personal history while inspiring readers to take control of their lives.

Skin by Philip Larkin

‘Skin’ by Philip Larkin speaks on the importance of a person’s identity. Specifically, he is concerned with the influence and biographical aspects of the skin.

Miscegenation by Roberta Sykes

‘Miscegenation’ by Roberta Skyes is a poem about identity and recognition. It focuses on a little girl who is yearning to find and know her father.

Thatcher by Seamus Heaney

The speaker describes the intricate work of a ‘Thatcher’ from the perspective of a child. We feel a sense of wonder and awe at the tradesman’s skill.

I Have Fallen in Love by Akka Mahadevi

‘I Have Fallen in Love’ by Akka Mahadevi expresses the poet’s faith with incredible honesty. She uses powerful images and metaphors to speak of religion and love.

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