“Why do you always use ‘he’?”
Is what I was asked in my poetry group. My fellow poet noticed I tended to write about boys a lot, whether it’s about a grandfather, father or brother, I gravitated toward the male pronoun.
I’m the baby of the family and the only girl.
My own mother was the only girl in her set of siblings, except she had six brothers to battle.
I’ve never had a close relationship to an aunt or grandmother. Familial female relationships only became important to me when my brother’s began to marry. And then my nieces.
Nowadays, my family has evened out in gender.
But that doesn’t change those growing years that I spent surrounded by boys.
I write he because:
My three older brothers have always been a place of protection and safety even in the midst of their teasing.
I had a close relationship to my papa.
I’ve always been a “daddy’s girl.”
She, in my poetry, usually (but not always) has a negative connotation. It’s not because of my mother is a negative influence, but rather other woman didn’t impact my childhood the way the men in my life did.
I never actually noticed until I was asked why I did it. The fellow poet actually writes more using “she,” because her household was female-centered.
Is this important? Does it matter in poetry?
I don’t think it does. Every writer will use “he” or “she” for their own purposes. If we dig into the writer’s mind and find out why they used one over the other, does it change the poem?
I’d argue no, because the context should already be within the poem.
Have you noticed anything similar in your own work? A part form poetry I also tend to write about males in fiction and nonfiction, specifically – a grandfather.
Clarification: The narrator in my poetry isn’t the ‘he’ I refer to, the narrator is rarely identified. In fiction my narrator / protagonist is female for the most part. When I talk about writing about grandfathers a lot, I mean a girls relationship with her grandfather.