Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Social Stigma

Midweek Motif ~ 
Social Stigma

Social stigma is not ordinary fear, but rejection that is culture bound.  Except social stigma about some mental and physical illnesses is universal.

Group of people outside
December First is World Aids Day.  The World Health Organization's goal is to have no new cases, no more deaths and no more stigma attached to the disease by 2030. Social stigma surrounding the disease inhibits communication and treatment.  

Have you seen social stigma at work? 

Your Challenge: Compose a new poem with a motif of social stigma.  Don't feel restricted to stigma surrounding AIDS and HIV.

Some Quotes:

“The stigmatized individual is asked to act so as to imply neither that his burden is heavy nor that bearing it has made him different from us; at the same time he must keep himself at that remove from us which assures our painlessly being able to confirm this belief about him.”  ― Erving Goffman

“The animal part of him in pain accepted my caring. But the part of himself watching himself in that pain didn't believe I could ever respect him again.”― Diane Ackerman

“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.”― Audre Lorde

“I got tested for AIDS. I know Barack got tested for AIDS. There's no shame in being tested for AIDS.  It's an important thing.”  Joe Biden

"AIDS occupies such a large part in our awareness because of what it has been taken to represent. It seems the very model of all the catastrophes privileged populations feel await them."― Susan Sontag

Some Poems:

excerpt from The Four Humours

Related Poem Content Details

I. Blood                                 
We wondered if the rumors got to her.
I’d seen her with that other girl behind
The Stop and Shop when I was walking home
from school one day. I swear, the two of them
were kissing, plain as that, the grass so high
it brushed their cheeks. I told my teacher so,
and maybe it was her who called their folks.
Before too long, it was like everyone 
in town had heard. We waited for them at
the dime store once, where Cedric grabbed her tits
and said I’ll learn you how to love how God 
intended it, you ugly fucking dyke.
Thing was, she wasn’t ugly like you’d think.
She had a certain quality, a shyness
maybe, and I’d describe the way she laughed 
as kind of gentle. Anyway, we never saw her with 
that girl again. They say she got depressed—
shit, at the service all of us got tearful.
I got to thinking what an awful sight
it was, all that red blood—it wasn’t in 
the papers, but I heard Melissa’s mother,
who was the nurse in the Emergency
that night, say how she was just covered up
in blood. I can’t think how you bring yourself
to cut your throat like that yourself—I asked
the counselor they called in to the school,
and she said something like, What better ink
to write the language of the heart? I guess
it proves that stuff from Bible school they say, 
that such a life of sin breeds misery.
. . . . 
(Read the rest HERE.)

“Hope” is the thing with feathers - (314)

Related Poem Content Details

“Hope” is the thing with feathers - 
That perches in the soul - 
And sings the tune without the words - 
And never stops - at all - 

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard - 
And sore must be the storm - 
That could abash the little Bird 
That kept so many warm - 

I’ve heard it in the chillest land - 
And on the strangest Sea - 
Yet - never - in Extremity, 
It asked a crumb - of me.
Excerpt from  The Bell Jar

My mother smiled. "I knew my baby wasn't like that."
I looked at her. "Like what?"

"Like those awful people. Those 
awful dead people at that hospital." 
She paused. 
"I knew you'd decide to be all right again.” 


Please share your new poem using Mr. Linky below and visit others  in the spirit of the community.  AND: please put a link to this prompt with your poem.  

(Next week Susan's Midweek Motif will be Aviation )


  1. Greetings, fellow poets. Most of us live in societies we would like to think are free, progressive and not very prone to socially stigmatising their constitutents. Alas! Even in the most tolerant and progressive countries stigma is alive and well as I am sure our poems will show. I look forward to reading them...

    1. I like to think that maybe at the tribal level we may be more able to live and let live. But I know that you are right and that we are all aware of stigma.

  2. Hey Poets U! This is the first poem I've written in a week what with holidays and birthdays and all. It's good to be back. I know I'll see you sometime in the next few days here or at the pantry or at a feature by Rosemary or Sherry. Happy last day of November!

  3. love the poems chosen for the wonderful prompt Susan...

    1. Thank you, Sumana. I read a lot for this one, it took a long time to decide. And, yes, I enjoyed doing it. We need more poems addressing the emotions of stigma!

  4. Thank you for another thought provoking motif - sorry we are quiet on the trail. Thank you as ever for your visits and comments

  5. Wonderful prompt, Susan! Love reading the poems here! Thanks..

    1. Thank you, Panchali. I thought this prompt would be easier than it turned out to be. Thank you for bringing your art.

  6. Hello everyone,

    Hope you guys are having an amazing day so far❤️ sharing my poem "Tete-a-Tete" thank you Susan for the wonderful opportunity!! xo

    Its been a rather long and tiring day here.. I can feel my eyes closing as its late night. Will be back to read, savor and comment in the morning ❤️

    Lots of love,

    1. Goodness, you can write like this when you're tired! You've earned your rest. Sleep well.

  7. We are Going Deep these days, given the times. This is a thought-provoking prompt. Heaven knows, we are surrounded by judgment on all sides.

    1. Oy! I hadn't expected it to be so timely. Recent political events are still too hard for me to write about though.

  8. Thank you for this challenge. Judgement is such a fickle think,

    1. "Fickle think"! That's good. Glad you could join in.

  9. Hi kids, Therisa gave me permission to link her poem, which so well suits the topic. She is feeling under the weather, and is also having computer access difficulties, but I am just happy to have her poem included here.

  10. I found this topic really difficult to address. I haven't experienced much of the usual stigmas. I pass for white rather than Anglo-Indian; none of my immediate circle has an issue with feminists; the men in my life have been unusually enlightened; and I even have a number of Christian friends although they know I'm a witch. As for talking about stigma in general, of which there is so much in the world, it was too depressing. But just when I had given up, I finally found something to say.

    1. How lucky you are! I would love if someday all who had ever been children among children could say the same. Going over to your blog ASAP.


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