Mitchell King Prompts Writers’ Room

Approaching Identity in Poetry, with Mitchell King

How do you approach identity and point of view in your poetry?

Who am I and how do I see the world? My approach to identity and point of view is slippery—not solid until I discover the story that comes with it in the poem. When writing a poem I am taking control of the narrative and rebuilding the story around myself. “Star Fag,” a poem, was an attempt to recognize all the different ways I’ve retooled my narrative; a way of acknowledging how many different stories can surround the same identity. There is a very great quote from Audre Lorde about a kind of making space for oneself to ensure your own survival, “If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.” I think so much of writing is either about reclaiming one’s own identity or exploring identity because there is this sense—this very real sense— that every day the world wants to deconstruct us/limit us to component parts to satisfy its hunger for news or a statistic. Identity, and point of view, then become an assertion: this is who I am in this moment, this is how I see the world. Or, this is my story, I am valid.

Writing Prompt

Read “Star Fag” to see how King engages with this idea of identity. Next, try writing about your own body using the third-person plural. What happens when you do this?


Mitchell King headshotMitchell King is a Witch and runaway Texan living in Kansas City. He was awarded the Jody Donahue Poetry Prize from Stony Brook Southampton in 2014, has published memoir in The Southampton Review, and has featured poetry with Matrix Magazine and The Red Cedar Review. He is currently working on his first collection while sweeping floors at a café in Kansas City and he hopes someday to colonize the moon. He can be found lurking about online at