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.

‘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...