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With Reference To At Least Four Different Poems, Explore How Cultural Identity Is Represented By The Various Poets

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Introduction

With Reference To At Least Four Different Poems, Explore How Cultural Identity Is Represented By The Various Poets The four poems I have selected to focus on all portray a cultural identity in their own unique way. 'Wherever I hang' and 'The Fat Black Woman Goes Shopping', are both written by Grace Nichols, a poet of Guinean background. I have also chosen to explore 'Dream Variation' by Langston Hughes as well as 'Half-Caste' by John Agard. I have chosen this selection of poetry because I feel that each poem has great merit in successfully challenging the racial disparities of the modern world. Grace Nichols unsurprisingly tends to base her poems around the inequality between the black and white communities; this is reflected in her poem 'Taint'. The poems I have chosen to investigate by her are 'The Fat Black Woman Goes Shopping' and 'Wherever I hang'. I chose to include these poems because they are in contrast to many of her other poems and it's content mainly comments on how white and black lifestyles differ rather than her usual theme of black persecution. The other two poems I have chosen by the two different poets both concentrate more on black discrimination like 'Taint' and are more similar to that poem, in this respect, than the two poems I chose by Grace Nichols. ...read more.

Middle

Agard's tone in the poem is irate and resentful as he explores this sensitive and emotive issue: "I close half-a-eye, consequently when I dream, I dream half-a-dream". This obviously bitter attitude towards the issue implies the poet feels strongly about this issue and that perhaps this subject touches his own sense of cultural identity. The challenge to the reader to answer the unspoken question is echoed throughout the poem; "Explain yuself, wha yu mean". The question put forward is why are children from mixed race parentage regarded as "half-caste"? Notice the "yu" in the quote implying the reader; this creates a sense of guilt and shame when reading the poem, as if the reader is personally responsible. Furthermore, through careful language use, Agard continues his attack on the term, emphasising its negative connotations "yu mean when light an shadow mix in de sky is a half-caste weather". This strong imagery is a powerful tool in creating a sombre atmosphere. This quote also shows the use of dialect, which is a more evident portrayal of cultural identity in this poem. Cultural identity is depicted through the sense of incompleteness throughout the poem and the general lack of acceptance of his culture. Agard's negative portrayal of the variation in cultures and the lack of acceptance are applied in a sardonic fashion. This is similar to Grace Nichols "The Fat Black Woman Goes Shopping", who uses a combination of sarcasm and humour to depict her opinion. ...read more.

Conclusion

Various statements, "waitin me turn in queue", mock the English culture and the dialect highlights the division between the cultures. The dialect also reflects her alienation in this country, "To tell you die truth, I don't know really where I belaang". This poem reflects an absence of identity, although in some ways she is still connected to her past life, " I sending home photos of myself", notice the use of the word "home". The poem depicts a certain lose of cultural identity despite the finishing line "Wherever I hang me knickers-that's my home". This finishing line is the hint of a subtle rebellious tone, stating that wherever she wants to live she will live despite all obstacles-despite all cultural differences. The four poems use various methods to convey their points, overall the most effective being the humorous approach. Grace Nichols most effectively conveys her cultural identity via her sarcastic and amusing method of writing. This encourages the reader to think more deeply about the poem and understand the idea of culture identity, which could help acceptance of various cultures in Britain. Despite this, I personally feel "Half-Caste" is the most striking poem, stirring emotions deeper than mere amusement. The poem allows us to understand how people of mixed race must feel when this term is used and the implications of such a word. Although fairly aggressive, this poem conveys most constructively the message of the necessity for acceptance, to whoever the reader may be. Erin Baker Page 1 5/1/2007 ...read more.

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