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Poetry and Our Perceptions of Belonging

            An individual's perception of belonging is closely related to their interactions with others and the world around them, and depending on their experiences, may enrich or limit their sense of belonging. This notion is portrayed in Peter Skrzynecki's poem, "10 Mary Street" (1975), through the family's ability to build and form a connection to their cultural heritage in a new country. However, in his poem "Migrant Hostel" (1975), the migrants' inability to relate to their physical and social environment due to their lack of empowerment results in their limited perception of belonging. A similar notion is presented in Paul Keating's "Redfern Speech" (1992) which explores the negative interactions between the government on Indigenous Australians. Ultimately, each composer has used a variety of techniques to demonstrate the integral role of interactions in establishing one's sense of belonging. The ability to adapt to new environments can allow them to form strong connections and relationships with others. In Skrzynecki's poem, "10 Mary Street," the family's ability to connect with the culture and spirituality of Poland has allowed them to establish a long-lasting sense of belonging to the house. The parent's attachment to the garden is conveyed through the simile "tendered roses and camellias like adopted children " which compares the positive quality of their home life to the humdrum" nature of their work, the colloquial language contrasting their lack of interest at work to their devotion at home. The family's relationships with each other and connection to Poland is present when "photos and letters, heated discussions and embracing gestures " are cumulatively listed, to establish that while they reside in Australia, they are still connected to their culture. Their connection to their heritage is furthered through their consumption of Polish foods such as "kielbasa" and "salt herrings," the symbolism revealing the interactions that brings them together due to their traditions.

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