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Strange AffiliationIn considering a poetry of silence, this chapter asks how might poets empathise, or identify with the disenfranchised? How might they employ the technique of personae, or mask voice, to explore that identification, or give voice to the silenced? In Joseph Conrad’s story, ‘The Secret Sharer’ (1910), a sea captain feels a powerful affinity with a fugitive, often referring to him as his ‘double’ or ‘second self’. To what extent can poets also be ‘secret sharers’? How might this practice go beyond the limitations of conventional identity politics? In giving voice to the silenced, how can a poet avoid exploiting or misrepresenting their subject? Through empathy and identification with disenfranchised groups or individuals, can poets cross boundaries of gender, race or socio-economic grouping? An exploration of this perspective on the role and function of poetry expands on key aspects of process, poetics and technique as active challenges to repressive silence, to furnish a means of articulating what might otherwise remain unvoiced. This reveals how practical engagement with a particular writerly dilemma – the imperative to speak as if on behalf of another – reveals something deeper about the nature of poetry.