In the beginning…

Before Christina Engela seriously began to write even short stories, she started off by writing poetry.

Christina wrote her first poem – ‘The Old Man From George’, a simple limerick – in 1986, at the start of her first year in high school, at the age of 12 years. During that year she completed 5 poems – each in a different format, all for school assignments in English poetry class that year. Sadly, standard 6 (grade 8 these days) was the ONLY year in which students were encouraged to write their own poetry – instead of just studying the works of other poets! Consequently, under these circumstances, she only wrote a small number of initial poems in 1986.

Poetry was at first not an ideal form of expression for Christina, who preferred essay and short story writing, and still endeavored to write a novel one day. The next time she wrote poetry, it was three years later, in 1989. “That Which Is” became her first inspired piece of poetry, which set her off to create a string of self-expressive poetry over the next few years.

Christina wrote poetry about history, culture, politics, identity (particularly relating to sexual orientation, gender identity, and also cultural identity), as well as that bane of all poets – depression and love.


In 1990, one of her poems was published for the very first time ever – “Surrender”, a poem about German reunification (which was then very topical) was published in her High School’s year book under her old name.

Christina continued to write poetry after finishing high school at the end of 1991, right into her early years in the army. At that time she began to express her experience of gender dysphoria in her poetry – and she has several times mentioned in interviews that the only time she writes poetry about herself is when she’s utterly miserable! That being said, she has also written a lot of quirky humorous poems as well.

During the late 1990’s, Christina hand-wrote quite a lot of poetry directly into her notebooks, noting a start-time and an end-time – often taking only ten or twenty minutes to compose and write one poem at a time!

By 2005 Christina felt she had enough poems to publish a collection of her own works entitled “White Picket Fences & Other Fairy Tales” (this title went out of print around 2014). She continued to write more poetry in the meantime, through the completion of her transition and after, when she began to explore the concept of alternate cultural identities through poetry as well.

In 2014, her poem ‘Love Will Never Be The Same’ (1991) – a poem about a girl she knew at high school, who was a rape survivor – was published in ‘Words Of Wisdom’, a poetry collection published by the Gauteng Department of Arts & Culture.

In 2017, Christina contributed two poems to “Come As Yourself vol 1” (now out of print), and another poem to “Trumpocalypse“. In 2019, she published a new updated collection of her poetry, “The Upside Of Sadness“.

Poetry Bibliography of Christina Engela:

  • White Picket Fences & Other Fairy Tales (2005) – OUT OF PRINT
  • Words Of Wisdom (contributing author, 2014)
  • Come As Yourself vol 1 (contributing author, 2017) – OUT OF PRINT
  • Trumpocalypse (contributing author, 2017)
  • The Upside Of Sadness (2019)

If you would like to know more about Christina Engela and her writing, please feel free to browse her website.

If you’d like to send Christina Engela a question about her life as a writer or transactivist, please send an email to christinaengela@gmail.com or use the Contact form.

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All material copyright © Christina Engela, 2021.

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