Peter Skrzynecki

???All individuals??™ interaction with each other and the world around them can enrich or limit their experiences of belonging.??? Discuss this view with reference to at least 2 of Skrzynecki??™s poems.

The way in which we interact with the individuals around us and the world us can either enrich or limit our experiences of belonging. This is evident in ???Feliks Skrzynecki??™ and ???Migrant Hostel??™. The poet who migrated from Poland to Australia at a young age retells his experiences in poetic form.

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???Migrant Hostel??™ is a euphonmous title by which it sets the location and the time frame of the poem. The inhabitants of the hostel come and go; however, no one really cares. There is an evident sense on anonymity and randomness in the first stanza which just sets the scene of the migrant hostel; this reinforces the immigrants??™ sense of insecurity and nervousness about their situation. There is a never ending state of activity that is unsettling to the persona. ???Comings and goings??™ (stanza 1 line 3) is a usually a cheerful colloquial phrase but it is imbued with a sinister overtone.

The immigrants continue to be haunted by their recent wartime experiences that impact on their ability to belong. This event has impacted on their ability to cope effectively with their current situation: ???memories of hunger and hate??™ (stanza 2, line 8) further isolate the immigrants.

The persona??™s family questions whether they will ever be able to achieve belonging in their lives. There is much uncertainty in the midst of change. The family live ???like birds of passage??™ (stanza 3, line 2) the simile exposes the fragility and the sense of dislocation that the family experiences. The persona experiences growing up in an ethnic environment of adjustment and adaptation. This further proves the quote that an individual??™s interaction will hinder or enrich their sense of belonging.

Just like the persona??™s family the other families experience similar barriers to belonging. The families experience is likened to that of the other migrants. This is revealed by the persona??™s pronoun choice of the inclusive ???us??™ (stanza 1, line 6) denoting a group mentality. It is an anxious time filled with disappointment, uncertainty and frustration at the delay as well as the sense of powerlessness as seen in stanza 1, line 7 with the rhetorical question ???who would be coming next??™

The immigrants congregate in nationality groups to provide mutual support and to create a transitionary sense of belonging. The simile ???Nationalities sought/each other out instinctively-/like a homing pigeon??™ stanza 2, lines 1-3 conveys the desire for comfort, the need to speak their own language and to find others in which they could identify with. The image highlights the instinctive behavior of people who are placed in uncertain situations. Mutual support limits the negative experiences and they try to fit in.

???Feliks Skrzynecki??™ by Peter Skrzynecki is written in ode form to the persona??™s father. Wartime experiences influences Feliks ability to belong. Reference to the WW2 labour camps illustrate the harsh reality Feliks faced. Courage and endurance are key features of his personality which have grown and flourished during his WW2 experiences. The persona is in admiration of Feliks as seen in ???when twice they dug cancer out of his foot??™ (stanza 4, lines 3-4)

Feliks had to overcome and deal with bureaucracy which hinders belonging. Ignorance manifested with bigotry; direct speech establishes accuracy and credibility in observation, ???A crew-cut, grey-haired/department clerk/who asked in dancing bear grunt/???Did your father ever attempt to learn English?????™

Feliks bond with his past stands as a barrier to belonging. It is a readily accepted fact that the older you get, the more difficult it becomes to adjust or assimilate into a new environment and/or culture. Feliks never really belongs in Australia. He recreates his life with his garden, his work and his polish friends. Reminiscing about pre-war Poland reminds him of his youth and happier, uncomplicated times before the trauma of the war and the destruction of everything he knew, ???talking they reminisced??¦/ they were skilled in slaughtering.??™ (stanza 3, lines 6-10)

Through the language techniques of accumulation in stanza 3 we see that Feliks connections are informed by cultural understanding and shared experiences.
In many ways the father and son remain strangers to each other as they both have different views of what it means to belong. This is shown in stanza 6, lines 5-6; ???My father sits out the evening/ with his dog.??™ The persona observes enviously at times with his inability to comprehend the happiness and contentment Feliks emanates in the face of hardship ???happy as I have never been.??™

In both poems the persona??™ feels alienated and lacks a sense of belonging due to the world and people around him. For two years he lived in a migrant hostel with the inability to settle into a routine due to the lack of structure. Thus an individuals interaction with others and the world around them can enrich or limit their experience of belonging.