What I Am (Not)

These six poems were created from the short messages of 50 foreign-born people on the theme What I Am (Not). They were invited to reflect on their experience as a foreign-born person now living in the Czech Republic and to send us a message – a message short enough that it can be said in a SINGLE BREATH – on how they see themselves and their identity. These six poems are created out of their voices by Laura Mentz Straková. The original prints are by Russian artist Varvara Skibina. Poems and prints were displayed as part of the Met.a.phorum: dialogue in motion event in spring and summer 2022.  

Dots - Chápeš?

Nebojte Se

Nebojte se

nejsem cikán, jsem mexcikan

I’m not in any mafia clan

I’m not a criminal

I’m not sexist

I’m not rude

nejsem debil

I am harmless

I’m not a famous dish nor a cultural stereotype – I don’t like spicy food or

speak Urdu –

I’m 100% Canadian even if you think my name is not ‘typically Canadian’

I’m not a rich American on holiday or a cultural invasion that’s trying to

change the country

I’m not working 20 hours a day

I am a person who would stop on an orange light or step around a puddle

I am natural I am beautiful –

I am not artificial beauty with fake lashes fake nails fake hair surgeries and


I am a swarm of many things, many roles and identities

I am not fictional


Here and Now

Pool - Here and Now

I am human.

I am one of us all.

I am part of the entirety of mankind.

I am a little piece of the universe.

I am molecules and particles just like everything else.

I am tiny.

I am unique.

I am the intersection and the continuation of all my ancestors’ lifelines.

I am one piece in the chain of this line of DNA.

I am the result of all my predecessors’ lives and I am a contributor to my

children’s and offspring’s lives.

I am an indispensable part of something bigger.

I am huge.

I am a granddaughter, a daughter, a mother, a partner, a friend, a colleague.

I am a learner, a teacher, a listener, a keeper of secrets, a holder of shoulders

when there is need.

I am the reciprocator of the love I receive.

I am an empath.

I am European.

I am Hungarian.

I am an immigrant.

I am alien and I am home in the same time.

I am one of you and I am one of them.

I am responsible for my actions.

I am an influence of future developments.

I am a useful part of my microcommunity, our society, our planet.

I am fragile. I am strong.

I am dependent on others. I am independent.

I am a thinking being. I am influenced by others.

I am something. I am nothing.

But I am NOT to be labelled by volatile ideologies.



Wall - Mír

I am Ukrainian woman

artist and original mind –

the lens showing you the world through my eyes

teacher and learner

feminist and wife

bystander to history –

I am alive and do my best to be happy

but I am (not) in my own skin

I am not yet okay

I’m just dust

my father believed that just the burial in the land of our ancestors gives peace.

I am not sure –

I hope I am the peace.



Dots - Chápeš?

jsem jen obyčejný člověk

I am not rich, I once was poor –

a bystander as the economy drains what little community and humanity we

have left

years of living in political narrative used to gaslight

well, whatever

whatever you think of me I am exist

I am not my country’s stereotypes

a stereotype that you think of me

I am not a doormat

I am not yours, theirs, ours

I am not what you make of me

I am what I make of myself

“jsi normální?”

I am as different to you, as you are to me

just a different version of normal

don’t judge what you see

jsem jen obyčejný člověk

we are the same


Flight to the City

Shadow - Flight To The City

I, a mother with Czech roots

always at home and always away from home

able to be my true, authentic self here

grateful I can raise my kids in an environment that promotes tolerance and


my life is here

but I,

I would not reject my country’s background or history just because it’s trendy

we must learn from history

not attempt delete it as if pretending it never happened would remedy the past

I, for the longest time, I had no home anywhere in the world

two different continents before moving here in search of “home” –

every time I walk past Charles Bridge, I feel I can do something purposeful

and build a home

it’s not perfect

but I,

I am not perfect

not always kind, cheerful, confident, understanding, honest, reliable

or warm-hearted

sometimes pompous and selfish, stubborn and controlling

We are all angels with one wing


I, am also a human like you.



Zebra - HomeLess

I am fragile. I am strong.

I am unique. I am not different than you.

I am independent. I am dependent on others.

I am one of us all. I am me.

I am huge. I am tiny.

I am everything. I am nothing.

I am alien. I am home.



Met.a.phorum is project of Rehearsal for Reality and hbs Prague based on a public dialogue and performance project on otherness, cross-cultural dialogue, and intercultural understanding. It promotes stronger social cohesion between Czechs and foreign-born residents of Czech Republic through choreographed dialogue, storytelling and performance.