An Archive of Pain by Heidi Anne Rogers

Updated: Sep 1, 2020

I’ve always loved writing. But it was poetry that stuck. Poetry, in its production and consumption, has provided both a solace and an outlet for my own journey through pain. This is not only because of poetry’s therapeutic nature, but because methodologically, poetry can be understood as an archive of the author’s experiences.


Last year, a project I had envisioned, An Archive of Pain, finally came to fruition. In it, I use my poems as my personal contribution to an archive, as an entrypoint through which others can reflect on their own experience of pain, and as that which allows us to participate in the pain together. Above is one of my personal favorites included in the project, a poem where I was really able to encapsulate everything I was feeling in that particular moment of its writing.



As someone who isn’t always comfortable sharing their emotions, writing it out was my way of getting to the depths of my emotion and being able to expose that raw vulnerability. The project is very much inspired by a practice of uncovering toward healing, taking its impetus from various modalities of therapy and reflection: group therapy, spoken word, poetry readings, community workshops, and collective art installations.


As a response to the individual and collective experience of trauma, An Archive of Pain invites users to reflect on their own experience of pain, externalize it through vocalization, and communalize it by using others’ experiences to reflect on one’s own as well as by participating in the construction of a communal archive.


So, symbolically and methodologically, An Archive of Pain as an object itself is meant to represent how pain lives, that is, both in its temporality as something that does not always disappear but endures even as it may change, as well as something that has a life outside of us as much as it is an individual experience. In a word, the living An Archive of Pain demonstrates the living-ness of pain itself: how pain lives within us, how pain lives on internally (and individually) as well as externally (and communally), and how we experience the life cycle of pain.



As a multi-racial Japanese, queer womxn, Heidi’s work is focused on racial equity.  She is committed to social justice and grassroots organizing, believing the most generative work is community-based and community-led. 


Central to her work is the advocacy and empowerment of Asian American and Pacific Islander (API) women and girls. As the chair for the Nashville branch of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), she has facilitated their mission to create a space for API women to come together in community and create social change through education, direct action, and advocacy. 


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