The Poetry ReRooted: Decolonizing Our Tongues workshop series for Muslimah youth living in Toronto took place in the Fall of 2017. Poetry ReRooted was conceptualized, organized, and facilitated by Hanan Hazime and funded through ArtReach.
Through the workshops, participants learned how to use language appropriation strategies to merge their own linguistic and cultural experiences with Standard Canadian English to create a more authentic and pluralistic form of self-expression. Language appropriation is a linguistic technique used by cross-cultural writers. It refers to “the process by which the [Standardized English] language is taken and made to ‘bear the burden’ of one’s own cultural experience” (Ashcroft et al. p.38, The Empire Writes Back). Such techniques include codeswitching (switching between dialects), glossing (providing a parenthetical translation of non-English terms), and syntactic fusion (merging English and non-English terms to create hybrid terms). These techniques enabled the participants to privilege their mother tongues over English. The techniques also allowed them to transform an oppressive form of a language into a decolonized channel of communication through which they can freely express themselves. In other words, Poetry ReRooted provided participants with the opportunity to analyze various aspects of standardized poetic conventions and discover how they can best “break” these rules to accurately represent their diverse life experiences.