An individual’s perception of belonging is greatly influenced by one's connection to their surroundings and environment. Their culture and belief plays a huge role in determining whether a person may feel like they belong in their environment or not. Our search for who we are is fuelled by the need to search for meaning in our lives and ultimately find where we belong. The texts that will be discussed in this essay are 3 prescribed peter Skrzynecki poems; Postcard, In the Folk museum and the migrant hostel and one related text film; The Island Man
Connections to our surrounding environment deeply shape the person we are and who we will grow up to be. Postcard describes the poet personas lack of connection to the places his parents call "home". When he receives a postcard of Warsaw, he expresses his distance he in the personification 'Warsaw, Old town I never knew you except in third person'. This shows he only experiences it second-hand, it has no deep sentimental value to him.
Skrzynecki’s search for identity is extremely strong and powerful in this text, as he poses the rhetorical question ‘what’s my choice / To be?' The possessive pronoun 'my', implies free choice and free will where the persona is able to make and shape their own identity without the input of others. Enjambment emphasises 'to be?' which could allude to the lost identity of, Hamlet. The personas’ ongoing search for their purpose makes him determined, 'a lone tree whispers / "we will meet / before you die." The lone tree represents alienation, loneliness and separation and 'whisper' represents a haunting echo of the past which is a part of who he is. No amount of denial and rejection of his past will change that, ‘We will meet before you die’, implying that the past will need to be confronted. The persona struggles to find their sense of identity and ultimately find where they belong, alienating the place of this parents past.
Without feeling connected to place, a person will not feel a sense of belonging no matter how much they try. 'In the folk museum', explores the deep struggle as persona tries to find a connection to place as he explores his cultural past. The poet figuratively visits a museum of his cultural past, however strolling through this museum has sparked a sense of loss because he does not feel as though he has a sense of connection, 'Reminding me of a past / which isn't mine', the use of first person 'me' and 'mine' suggests alienation and possessiveness emphasising their inability to shape their identity as they fail to 'own' the past. The museum holds an eerie silence, 'a darkness in the rooms / Betrays the absence of voices'. The absence of voices represents a void, nobody appreciates or acknowledges the past cultural artefacts that lay in the museum and the significance that these artefacts have.. In the last stanza the persona states, 'the wind taps hurriedly / In the roofs and walls / And I leave without wanting a final look.’ the persona metaphorically leaves his past, because he does not find a sense of belonging in the memories which are not his own. Connotations of 'final' symbolise that the persona never returning to the past due to its overriding sense of displacement was. The persona does not feel like he connects to the museum so a sense of belonging was not achieved.
A sense of belonging cannot be achieved if we do not have connections made with people, places and the larger world. ‘Migrant hostel, Parks 1949-1951’, explores the struggles and displacement. The migrants sought to overcome their separation, ‘Nationalities sought/each other instinctively/like a homing pigeon/circling to get its bearing’. This simile shows the migrants are being drawn to their own culture for stability to counter feelings of isolation and alienation. A bird that is circling to get its bearing is hesitant, unstable and unsure of where to land, much