Unapologetic Gospel of the Soul, By Beau Fike
Rosali Borka is a self-defined cripple witch poet and dear friend of mine who is currently debuting as an Instagram poet. She is an incubator of intensity and has a profound command over each turn of phrase. Her first pieces in this iteration of her artistry have been a collaboration between herself and Emma Monroe, a visual artist whose work I would describe as somatic, feminist, and macabre.
Rosali’s work reclaims social media, a platform too often dismissed or questioned, as a pivotal platform for neurodivergent folks and folks with disabilities. She blithely deconstructs dominant narratives about what it means to live in one’s own body and define one’s own joy.
The first visual work is interlaced with poetry and the structure of the poem echoes Emma Monroe’s use of ovals and circles around the femme form.
“a poem like a hole in the heart:” is in conversation with feminist cannon: Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” and Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. It questions what spaces and what symbols are equivocated with agency from the perspective of a femme who is disabled. The poem prods at what resistance looks like and the stealthy oppressions of less visible populations (“a quieter violence”). The pacing of the words throughout the bottom of the visual art becomes halting, picks up, and creates a sense of urgency behind the question posed to society about freedom and justice versus maintenance of the status quo.
“a poem like a letter from me to me” is a much-needed Ars Poetica from the poet to herself. The piece is more than that, though: a windowpane into the liminal and excruciating pauses in creative process.
In order to avoid displacing Rosali’s own relationship to her work with my commentary, I conducted a short interview:
Lora Fike: How would you describe the evolution of your creative process from Perpich Center for the Arts up to this current iteration?
Rosali Borka: It’s taken on a boomerang shape over the last decade. I was taught how to be a person more so than a writer in school, how to accept the time in between writing as fruitful to the process of becoming an artist as the work itself. In the times where it is my body that makes writing seem impossible I know that I’m learning things that need to be said. It’s just a matter of circling back.
Fike: What role does social media play in your creative process and who are your influences?
Borka: Social media is my classroom, really the internet in general is my school and has been since forever, now more by necessity and increased disability. I am always learning from those who wield the form to share personal and political intersections––Rupi Kaur, Roxane Gay, Nayyirah Waheed, Warsan Shire; they all have a way of breathing light into the digital sphere. It gives me hope that when the physical isn’t always accessible I have a world I can go to that feeds and teaches me.
Fike: Who is your target audience or reader?
Borka: Everyone! I am always looking to share my experience with other disabled people, but more so I want to raise awareness about how ableism can keep artists from succeeding in creative and academic circles. Amazing things are still produced when you can’t get out of bed, it’s whether someone who CAN get out of bed wants to hear it.
Editorial Board Member
BEAU FIKE is a child of the land of ten thousand lakes, a lover of upheaval, wryness, and ambiguity. They are in the business of taking down sand castles with a five-year plan of dismantling decaying institutions. They are also a dual degree student, a MFA Candidate at Hamline University and a JD Candidate at Mitchell Hamline School of Law.