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Comparing Cultural Poems

  • Date Submitted: 05/22/2010 07:53 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 57.9 
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How two poets use personal experiences to express their attitudes and views towards cultural conflict?

In the two poems ‘Nothing’s Changed (NC)’ by Tatamuhkulku Afrika and ‘Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan (PFMAIP)’ by Moniza Alvi, both use a variety of clever and effective techniques. The two poets recall their personal hardships and shortcomings, and use it as a powerful way to express their attitudes and views towards conflict between and within their respective cultures. Both poems seem to show the writer cut a confused, helpless and frustrated figure as they struggle to find a culture and identity that they feel is right for them. They both evoke different, though equally significant moods that grab the readers’ attention. Both poets show how they have been caught up in cultural conflict and have suffered as a result. NC deals with the issue of racism in South Africa, both before and after the Apartheid, while Alvi explores her personal, social and cultural divide as she is torn between two very different cultures.

The hardships and shortcomings suffered by both Alvi and Afrika play a big role in how the reader responds to each poem. In ‘PFMAIP’, the writer is a young girl who has parents of different backgrounds, one of English heritage and the other of Pakistani heritage. Because of this she finds herself struggling to choose between the two different cultures. She does not feel quite right when trying on the traditional Pakistani clothing. “I longed for denim and corduroy” shows that she is desperate for English clothing when she was trying on her presents from her aunts, giving the impression that she feels uncomfortable and unfamiliar with it. She feels that she does not fully fit into any culture. “My costume clung to me and I was aflame, I couldn’t rise up out of its fire, half-English”. This word ‘costume’ shows that what she is wearing is something strange to her and something she would not normally wear. When she says: “I was aflame, I...


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