Go deep into Mixed Feelings with poet and actor Avan Jogia.
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Content & Themes
Mixed Feelings is a poetry and essay collection that tackles themes of identity, racism, profiling, discrimination, and other realities that people of mixed races and heritages face every single day. It’s told through personal essays and poetry, each chronicling a deeply personal and moving facet of the experience.
What Jogia accomplished in assembling this collection is an immersive and emotional perspective into the reality he lives as a man of mixed race. The real feat is that he does it in a way that’s both non-confrontational and accessible, making a book that’s raw and assertive without making any readers feel attacked, or “other.”
Also notable is Jogia’s ability to discuss race and identity through the lens of categorization– calling out specifically that he’s not half-anything, but rather a whole person. The poignant assertions in the book challenge the reader to reconsider assumptions we make about other people’s stories, lines of inquiry we follow about ourselves and others, and perhaps most importantly, what and who we allow to define us in a world that is ever-fixated on race as one of the largest considerations in identity.
Voice & Tone
Jogia is here to tell a really specific story, and his voice and tone are both focused and assertive. Again, he does this in a way that presents readers with the facts of his and others’ experiences that is both ardent and accessible. I could, as a white woman of fairly singular heritage (mostly Irish, a little Hungarian Jewish in there) read these recountings and feel the frustrations of the marginalized, feel the anger at the injustices other people have had to face on their journeys, feel the deep conflict that comes with building your identity in a way that doesn’t perfectly align with the box society wants to tuck you into.
Jogia also curated guest voices into essay collections and poetry that came together in a symphonic way to reinforce each other– adding both corroboration and contrast to each individual’s experience and story. The overarching themes of their experiences are similar enough that the book feels cohesive and harmonious but the individual voices are nuanced enough that each insight into another’s life feels intimate, specific, and valuable.
I love this collection. I recommend it to anyone who’s struggling with the concepts of self-identity, especially if the friction stems from pushing back against societal norms. I recommend the collection to anyone who strives to understand the experiences and perspectives of artists and people who live different lives than them. I recommend it to anyone who’s struggled with the narratives of race and meaning in today’s global community. And I recommend it to anyone who loves strong poetry– poetry that carries more than its own weight in its verses.