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SwiftCurrent: Tangled Histories and Bodily Poetics

Volume 32, Number 2 (2007)

‘Whatever That Is’: Hiromi Goto’s Body Politic/s

December 5, 2008


Hiromi Goto's poem "The Body Politic" (1994) explores the commingled effects of racialization and sexualization. Moving between the idea of the 'body politic' as a symbol for citizenship and the 'body politic' as a body marked by the politics of race, sexuality and gender, Goto speculates on the way her own body is shaped by but also shapes culture. In particular, she addresses the embodied traumas of racialization: the impulse to scrape away skin colour, to slice folds into the eyelid. Homi K. Bhabha's theory of hybridity helps explain how "The Body Politic" valorizes the hybrid monstrosity that is produced by and for those who move between cultures, a message Goto delivers by means of a variety of poetic modes that both textualize and interrogate the relationship between Japanese, Canadian, and Japanese-Canadian.