When the Poet Is a Stranger: Poetry and Agency in Tagore, Walcott, and Darwish

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This study is concerned with the process of the making of a postcolonial poet persona where the poet is addressing multiple audiences and is trying to speak for, and speak to, multiple constituencies through poetry. The poets examined here, Rabindranath Tagore, Derek Walcott, and Mahmoud Darwish--arguably among the best-known poets of the modern world--sought to be heard by various sensibilities and succeeded in reaching them. Outside the fold of the Western Metropolitan world, they as a trio have much to teach us about how poets living under three different phases of colonial hegemony (colonial India, postcolonial West Indies, and neocolonial Palestine/Israel) manage to speak. Their presence in their poetry, or the pressure their life stories and their poet personae, becomes an essential part of reading their work. Desiring to speak themselves, the poets chosen here have necessarily had to speak for their regions, peoples and cultures, alternately celebrating and resisting the burden of representation, imposed on them by both their own people and by the outsiders who receive them. How does a postcolonial poet address changing contingencies--personal, social and political-- while continuing to hold the attention of a global readership? How have their formal and esthetic approaches shifted as they responded to contingencies and as they attempted intervene in local and global conversations regarding the fate and future of their societies? An examination of the genre of poetry and postcolonial agency, this study addresses these and other related questions as it looks at the emergence and evolution of Tagore, Walcott, and Darwish as postcolonial world poets.






Mattawa, Khaled (2009). When the Poet Is a Stranger: Poetry and Agency in Tagore, Walcott, and Darwish. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/1289.


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