Tania De Rozario’s words have moved me in ways that I never thought possible. I first discovered her when I picked up a copy of her poetry collection called ‘Tender Delirium’ from a small independent bookshop in Singapore. I was immediately struck by the rawness of her words, and have been addicted to her work ever since.
Tania mainly writes confessional poetry, and she draws readers straight into the heart of her emotional experiences. She does not only describe what she is feeling but instead takes a fistful of her emotions and punches you in the gut with them. Tania has this unique technique of throwing out a plethora of visceral images at her reader, forcing you to visualize the cutting metaphors she uses and making them linger in your mind long after you’ve read the poem.
She opens ‘Tender Delirium’ with a powerful poem called ‘What You Are’, which demonstrates the impact of her imagery. It is one of my favourite poems by her, and it describes how she wants her poems to heavily impact her readers. In the first three lines, Tania states that she wants to ‘write you a poem that unravels / from the gut, hurls itself towards you / like a slap across the mouth’. This is the image I remember every time I am rendered speechless by her poetry.
You could almost imagine her poems rising from the page and throwing themselves at you. One of the best lines in this poem are ‘let it stir the birds in your chest / so hard they burst through your flesh / in a spectacle of sound and despair’. Tania does not mince her words, using a grotesque image of birds tearing through one’s flesh, and admits that she wants her poetry to be painful to read. At the same time, though, I always feel a sense of relief when reading her poetry releases the ‘birds’ in my own chest. Sure, it was painful to think about the deepest parts of my being that Tania’s poetry tapped into, but Tania’s baring of her soul makes me easier to strip mine bear as well.
While Tania writes confessional poetry, she expertly weaves in her experience of the effects of certain social issues, which opens readers’ up to the reality of society in a touching and personal way. She talks about gender roles and homophobia, sharing her stories through her poetry. One poem that really sticks in my mind is one that she wrote about shaving her head, where such experience allowed her to find her identity, despite her mother’s disapproval.
Or a poem called ‘What Type Do You Like?’, which discusses the different ‘types’ of females and males that people like to categorise others by. ‘I’ve never been into / designer labels: Butch, femme, andro, dyke, crew cuts, china dolls, jeans that fit to different / degrees / of gender’. Her use of stanzas in this poem is thought provoking, with the one-word stanzas ironically looking like the titles of a category. She goes on to describe the ‘type’ that she likes, which is basically a description of a human being whom she falls in love with but does not necessarily belong to any ‘type’. Her last stanza blew me away, in which she throws out the image of the ‘hollow cardboard of a fli sy box / of text’. Her last sentence, ‘and then tell me where you / fit’ is broken up into two lines, with the last word forming a completely different stanza. Not only does she use her technique of strong visual images to prove a point, she also provides the reader with an actual textual representation of how a ‘box of text’ will not be able to ‘tell me where you / fit’.
I could go on and on about how brilliant Tania’s poetry is. She has helped me to discover parts of myself that I never even knew existed and forced me to think about issues that in an honest and personal way. The impact of her poetry can be summed up by the last line of ‘What You Are’: ‘a finger pointing, unflinchingly: this is what you are’.