Words of Wisdom:

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Poetry from Other Cultures

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 03:19 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 64.3 
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How do Moniza Alvi and Sujatta Bhatt use their poems to show the difficulties facing people moving from one culture to another?



Moniza Alvi is from Pakistan, and is mixed race, her father is Pakistani, her mother is English, and her, her mother and father moved to England when she was a baby. She doesn’t remember travelling to England, or her birthplace. The only things she knows about Pakistan are through what people have told her and from photographs that her family had shown her.

In this poem, she describes gifts that are sent to her from her relatives in Pakistan. She likes them, because of the bright colours, but would feel awkward wearing them out because it’s not English people’s normal choice of clothes. She compares the bright, Pakistani clothes to the ones she has, ‘cardigans from Marks and Spencer’.

The stanzas of the poem aren’t very structured, they vary in length, and the lines don’t have a regular rhyming structure. With the lines being longer, they seem to be written easily, and to be spoken naturally, whereas if the line was broken up into smaller lines, I think it would mean to be spoken more thoughtfully.

The poem, ‘Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan’, is memories of Moniza Alvi receiving presents, and not necessarily disliking them, but finding them strange and unique in her English environment. She mentions a camel skin lampshade: she understands the beauty of it, but also sees it as cruel, because in England, there aren’t so many lamp shades made from real camel skin.

Alvi also puts in the poem about two salwar kameezes that she is sent, and some gold and black, curled toe, embossed slippers, candy striped glass bangles, and a sari. I think that she isn’t very keen on them, because it’s not what she’d normally choose to wear, she describes one of the salwar kameezes ‘glistening like an orange split open’. When she says ‘orange split open’, I don’t think that she thinks orange is a very complimentary...

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