During our conversation, my friend and I discussed Kahlo’s appearance in her own paintings. When I said that when I saw them in my youth I’d been (negatively) impressed by their self-centeredness, my friend argued that the impact of Kahlo’s works transcended her presence in them. Seeing her paintings again today, when my memory of them was already vague, made me rethink their content and effect on viewers. Because of my feeling an identification with her – to a certain extent – I started to reexamine the influence of my injury and convalescence on the content of my poems.
A fresh view of Kahlo’s paintings made me reflect on my injury and its impact on my work. The first poetry book I wrote, Lagos [Lakes], was based on my waking up from my coma and the feelings my injury had caused in me – confusion, memory loss, and disability had generated anger (because of my inability to move and my constant dependence on the aid of others) and a sense of helplessness. I wanted to translate my emotions into words, but I chose to erase the I from my poems and replace it with infinitives; I (mistakenly) disliked women poets’ constant resort to personal feelings and (male) critics’ pointing at intimacy as a major feature of “feminine” poetry. Yet, after reading about Frida Kahlo and looking at her work, a lot of new questions appeared in my mind; I’m having to reevaluate the relationship between traumatic experiences and physical pain, and the word or stroke, and the transcendence of self-presence.