Poet Imtiaz Dharker discusses concepts of national identity and how they have influenced her writing.
She says that "Nationhood is often used as a camouflage for bigotry, as an excuse for chauvinism, as a means of excluding others – the ideal situation is to be able to enjoy and celebrate the pleasures of your nation and to open up to other cultures."
When I can’t comprehend
why they’re burning books
or slashing paintings,
when they can’t bear to look
at god’s own nakedness
when they ban the film
and gut the scats to stop the play
and I ask why
they just smile and say,
"She must be from another country."
But from where we are it doesn’t look like a country,
it’s more like the cracks
that grow between borders
behind their backs.
That’s where I live.
And I’ll be happy to say
" I never learned your customs,
I don’t remember your language
or know your ways.
I must be from another country"
Take it further
Books and poetry on the subject of nationalism:
The Arts Good Study Guide, E. Chambers, A. Northedge, The Open University
Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe, Heinneman International [Read the Book Club introduction]
Mother Courage, Bertolt Brecht, Methuen
The Outsider, Albert Camus, Penguin
A Passage to India, E. M. Forster, Penguin
England Made Me, Graham Greene, Penguin
In a Free State, V.S.Naipul, Penguin
Imtiaz Dharker collections
Purdah, Imtiaz Dharker, Bloodaxe Books
Postcards from God, Imtiaz Dharker, Bloodaxe Books
Why not try the Literature Department of the British Council, which provides information, arranges events and publishes material which promotes British literature overseas.
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