With federal budgets proposing to cut funding for arts, it is evident that poetry could be pushed further aside for more lucrative financial endeavors. With that in mind, writing poetry is important to me because it challenges the idea that non-lucrative or creative endeavors are not relevant or necessary. Each poem I write inherently protests the marginalization of the arts. In a patriarchal society that sees women as inferior, resisting patriarchal conventions through writing is revolutionary. When I write about what I see, whether overtly insubordinate to convention or not, I am making a statement against forces claiming that my perspective is inferior. That kind of resistance is always at the forefront of my mind when writing. My poems participate in a tradition of witness that explores subjects like family, spirituality, and nature and that perceives such subjects as inherently valuable and political. Whether writing about my mother, God, or the death of loved ones, my work simultaneously provides a record of tragedy and an imaginative lens on everyday life. I strive to not only confess and provide witness for my memories, traumas, and experiences, but to attempt to reconcile them via suggestive imagery, narrative additions, and metaphorical counterpoints.
Karstin Johnson is an MFA candidate at the University of Arkansas, but considers the Southern California coast “home.” She is the Co-Creative Writing Director of the Northwest Arkansas Prison Stories Project. She has been published in Passages North and was recently awarded Lily Peter Fellowship in Poetry and the Harrison/Whitehead Founders’ Fellowship.