Nour Morjan on writing I Am the Power You Undermine

The majority of my poems were written as a spontaneous outpouring of my feelings and emotions. I wrote most of them while on the bus on my daily journey to university at the time, or when I was in a new place which inspired me or helped me explore different feelings. I wrote the poems over a period of five years or so. Individually – apart from a few exceptions – most of them did not take me long to write. For some poems, I would write the initial line as a prompt, and would then leave it for a few days, weeks, or even months, until I had explored my feelings again and knew how to translate them into a poem.

In all truthfulness, I was reluctant for a very long time to express my views, which I knew were radical. Coming from a very conservative Muslim society, I was always anxious about how my feminism would be received, especially when it came to comparing the things men or boys were entitled to compared to the choices that I, as a girl, and later as a woman, was given. I did argue with people around me about some of these topics, and the response was always either rejection or some form of policing. This fear haunted me for a very long time, and was the very reason why I wanted to move abroad. I wanted to have the space to explore my feminism and allow myself to grow as a woman. I fought a lot of mental battles around my religion and my society, and I had to do a lot of unlearning – exploring and challenging both myself and the society around me, including some religious people. This in turn affected my mental health. At one point, these battles were so hard to fight that I lost the will to live. Some people don’t understand that feminism isn’t just about women’s rights but also about the extent of the damage that the patriarchy has inflicted on us and on society – affecting men as well as women. I had to learn how to conquer my ground and empower myself and I did that through writing and through learning more about feminism from amazing feminist activists. Writing empowered and encouraged me to face my feelings and explore the ideas that came to me.

Although my poems are predominantly about my own personal journey, I have written from other people’s viewpoints as well. I wrote about refugees and abortion even though I am not a refugee myself and I haven’t experienced abortion. I know that going through the pain of these life events is not the same as writing about them, but I wanted to shed light on important social and political issues.

I am also aware that some of my own experiences resonate with many other people. So, while most of the poems are written from my own perspective, I know that they are universally relevant.

When I write, I feel more myself, and I have this bond with my inner soul which brings me truth and peace. I wrote these poems without the intention of getting them published, but simply to connect with myself and just breathe through my writing.

As a pharmacist with a busy home life it is not always easy to find time for my poetry, however, with my husband’s help and support, I manage to find some time to write whenever I get the impulse. When I feel words are flowing in my head then I try to write, whether I am in the car park waiting for my shift to start or before I go to bed – or even while waiting for the food to be cooked.

When I was told that my poems stood a good chance of being published, I started considering re-drafting them with that in mind. I completed the initial re-drafting when I did my first ever live reading during the Refugee Week – a yearly event celebrated nationally. After that, I re-visited my poems more frequently, reading them out loud sometimes to listen to how they sounded. I finally submitted them to Victorina Press and they were accepted for publication.

I knew that submitting my poetry to a publisher believing strongly in diversity would mean my work would truly be seen from the angle I wanted it to be seen. Victorina created this space for people like me to have their voice heard and to let their talent sparkle. There was a time when I felt my background was a disadvantage to my progression in life, but through my journey I learnt how to turn the disadvantage into an advantage, and I feel that being from an ethnic minority gives a special flavour to my writing.

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