Santiago Salinas is a student at The College of New Jersey pursuing a degree in Public Health, Psychology and Social Justice.
The definition of Raw, as provided in this literature, is strong and undisguised. In an emotional context, it's meaning is ambiguous and left up to the person feeling these emotions. After reading this text, I see no other title that is more deserving of this title: Raw.
Raw is a book that encases many poems and pieces of art that illustrate how raw our emotions can be. All of these poems, while different in content, are similar in message. All of them describe our raw emotions of love, lust, loss and healing. One poem reads: "Sometimes i just want to be held. I crave that feeling of human connection, The warmth of another soul against mine." These words can be perfectly summarized by the general human need to connect with someone on a deep emotional level. This connection can be with a parent, friend, or partner with whom we find comfort in and vulnerability with. In addition, poem also summarizes humankind's desire for an emotional connection that is not only satisfying, but healthy. To put this feeling into a bigger perspective, how many of us have needed a hug? A kiss? Or even to hear someone utter the words "I love you," to us? From personal experience, I would be lying if I had said that I did not wish to hear someone say this to me. To be loved, accepted, and vulnerable with someone is all we desire, and what is of the basis on our survival as a species.
Raw not only captures these strong emotions that we feel on a daily basis, but also challenges us to ask ourselves the question, "How can we process our emotions?" as well as challenging us to accept that our strong emotions are normal and keep us grounded in reality. I think that, when given the opportunity to feel these emotions, we often feel ashamed of these and attempt very hard to turn away from them and ignore these entirely. From a mental and emotional health perspective, burying these emotions deep within ourselves can be extremely harmful to us and also effect our worldly views as well. Gomez perfectly recognizes these struggles when she writes: "I told the sky what you did, And she wept with me," which puts into a clear view of how not only how our emotions effect us internally, but also effect our perceptions of the world around us. When we are happy, we see the cloudy skies as a temporary fix, but when we are sad, we see them as a perpetual state of hopeless and greyness.
Our Raw emotions, as stated previously, are nothing to be ashamed of. In order to comprehend and process what our emotions are, we must also understand that they are there and they are normal. I believe that Raw challenges us to recognize and compartmentalizes human emotions and destigmatizes the act of feeling.
Raw by Caitlyne Gomez is now Available for Purchase on Amazon
After reading the book, I simply had to get into the mind of the woman behind the words. I sat down with Caitlyne Gomez and asked her about her influences in writing Raw, what she hopes to gain from it, and what her next steps are.
Q. What inspired you to write Raw?
A. At first it started off as journaling in High School. When writing this, I was very moved by the words I put on paper and from there I knew that these had an affect. I was very conflicted on whether or not I should share my words with others, but after getting feedback from my girl friends and others I started to gain more confidence in myself and my abilities. In addition, I learned that art is subjective, and my art was unique.
Q. Why Raw, why that specific title?
A. Surprisingly the title came at the end of the book. When I finished writing it, I looked back on it and saw that it was just that, raw. My emotions were genuine and my own and I felt that they could not be described in any other way possible. They are untouched and they are what they are.
Q. There is one poem about cheating and lust, can you tell me about what it means and what inspired you to write it?
A. So that poem was inspired by an interaction I had with a past romantic partner. We had ended our relationship and he would not stop reaching out to me and I kid you not, he said that I was irreplaceable regardless of the fact that he has a new girlfriend now. While I am not trying to rekindle anything, I do recognize that our relationship and bond was something strong that he just cannot let go of.
Q. A lot of your poems talk about external things such as nature, are you getting at that our perception of the world is influenced by our emotions?
A. While writing one of those poems, it was raining and I was feeling sad, so I did take that as the sky was empathizing with my pain. I feel that nature can reflect your feelings depending on how you view them in terms of corresponding with your current emotional state. So yes, our emotions can often influence our external views.
Q. In one particular poem you give a metaphor of a dead flower, can you tell me what message you were trying to convey?
A. In a literal sense, when a garden is full of dead flowers you have to get rid of them for new flowers to grow. That goes the same for relationships, we must get rid of the dead relationships for new ones to grow in a nurturing and health environment.
Q. In your biography, you describe yourself as being a womanist. I wanted to ask, is that in a way related to feminism or a specific branch of feminism?
A. That is both yes and no. So feminism, historically has been rooted in racism and exclusivity. When you look at the Women's Suffrage Movement, there was very little attention directed to the obstacles Black Women had to face when it came to voting. In addition, Women of Color were purposefully left out of the conversation of equality and equity. Womanism, not only changes the standards of feminism, but also aims to address issues that include Women of Color, Transgender Women, and Women who do not fit the mold of femininity.
Q. What are your specific goals with Raw?
A. My goal with Raw is a simple one. I want my readers to understand that they are not alone in their feelings. For example, the feelings of loss are not felt in an isolated way, we all have experienced the loss of someone we loved and it is important to know that they are not alone because they feel as though they cannot relate to anyone else in a sense that they feel alone or isolated. In addition, I want my readers to know that I have been in their shoes at some point in my life. I understand what they are feeling and what they are going through because I myself, have gone through the same.
Q. Do you see yourself publishing more? Can we expect a Raw II?
A. Yes, after getting over my initial fear of putting my words out there I can definitely say that I will be publishing more for my readers. I don't have an exact date on when I will be releasing them but right now my next literary piece is going to focus on platonic relationships and also women-specific issues and struggles that we as women-identifying individuals go through. In addition, I am trying to figure out how to translate Raw into a Spanish version without having it lose its authenticity and also trying to find more windows of publicity for Raw as well.
After speaking with Gomez, it is apparent that she is heavily invested in her work, she is super confident in her words as well as her abilities as a writer. I am very much looking forward to her next literary piece.
My Personal Feelings about Raw and why it is a Must Read
After reading the book Raw, I have a strong sense that it is a forceful yet insightful read into the human mind. It has challenged me not only to understand how human emotions work and how they respond to them, but also causes me to look inward about how my emotions and my traumas have caused me to feel. In my life, I have loved, lost, and suffered by the hands of others, and also by my own hands. Like in Raw, I have let others dictate my emotions and my perceptions of others based on what has happened to me in the past. However, after reading, Raw has forced me to understand that my emotions are my own and that I am capable of not letting my emotions overtake me.
I think that from reading this book, it would greatly benefit every reader, regardless of how they identify, to understand that our emotions make us human, they make us understand the need for acceptance, love, and growth.
Raw is out now for purchase on Amazon both on the Kindle and paperback copies for cheap.