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Freak - a poem by Imtiaz Dharker

Updated Tuesday, 1st July 2008

The Open Minds Poets' Corner

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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."

Freak (abridged)

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"

(new work)

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.

The Poetry Society

Find out more about studying the arts with The Open University.

Follow our tips for getting writing - for fun and for profit.






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