The Power of Pictures in Poetry with Shannon Jie

Words by Danielle Irene

Published Jan. 11, 2019

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“I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember,” said Shannon Jie, a 17-year-old poet who has made their mark on social media. Being nonbinary, Jie has found a personal freedom for themself through their work. “I like the freedom poetry gives me to express feelings and ideas I can’t verbally communicate.”


Jie’s poems are striking. Their literature contrasts what’s accepted as the standard for today’s status quoetry. Rather than capitalizing on the type of disarming placidity that many modern Tumblr poets weave in their work, Jie doesn’t intend to express openness in their work, but confinement.


“I write a lot about bleeding, gore, and a sense of skin being overly confining, which I think is my way of writing about my experiences being nonbinary in a homophobic and transphobic environment.”


Jie self-ascribed their overall benchmark as “graphic and imagery-heavy.”


If you find yourself sensitive to that sort of content, you may be tempted to shy away. But don’t just yet. Despite their description, Jie’s poems are not abrasive. Any corrosive quality is only observed at the discretion of the reader. Jie’s work is often written in fragments, leaving the whole picture up to self-interpretation.


“My writing often focuses on communication; mostly miscommunication, which stems from being nonbinary and scared of that identity that I know is part of me,” said Jie.


In a single poem, you’ll find a myriad of brash words, subtle alliteration, and repetition—all tainted with a dash of forlorning. Even so, structure is certainly not a staple of Jie’s writings. In contrast to leaning traditional, they like to focus on not only the lingual power of poetry but also the visual.


“Just keep on creating,” encouraged Jie. “Even when you hate the things you make, even when you think your poems or drawings are the worst thing in the world, just keep on creating. It’s the only way you will ever improve.”


You can keep up with Shannon on Instagram and by subscribing to their Newsletter.



See the rest of the articles from issue four here.

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