Adcock, Fleur

“I no longer feel inclined to make comments on my own work, which I feel should speak for itself.”
(qtd. in Feminist Writers)

Introduction

Book cover of Poems: 1960-2000, 2000.

Poems: 1960-2000, 2000

Kareen Fleur Adcock was born February 10, 1934, in Papakura, New Zealand to Cyril John and Irene Robinson Adcock. She legally changed her name to Fleur Adcock in 1982. She spent most of her childhood (1939-1947) living and studying in England while both of her parents helped with World War II. After the war, her family returned to New Zealand where she received a degree in Classics from Victoria University at Wellington in 1954. At Victoria, Adcock met and married the poet Alistair Campbell in 1952. She gave birth to her first son, Gregory, just after she completed her B.A. degree. In 1956 she earned an M.A. The following year she gave birth to her second son, Andrew and in 1958 she and Campbell were divorced. Adcock took a job as an assistant lecturer in classics at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand and worked in the University library until 1961. In 1962, Adcock returned to Wellington to work in the Alexander Turnbull Library. This same year she briefly married writer Barry Crump. Her divorce from Crump in 1963 inspired Adcock to move from New Zealand to England with her five-year old son Andrew, leaving Gregory with his father. In London, Adcock worked as a librarian at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. In 1975-76, Adcock paid her first visit to New Zealand since she left the country for London thirteen years before. Upon her return to London, Adcock took two creative writing fellowships, the first at Charlotte Mason College of Education in Windermere and the second at the universities of Newcastle upon Tynne and Durham. Since 1980, Adcock has worked as a freelance writer, producing her own poetry and translating and editing collections. She also delivers talks on poetry for the British Broadcasting Corporation.

Major Themes

Adcock’s poetry is characterized by images drawn from her immediate experience. Although the subject of her poetry often deals with personal matters, it is not confessional. “The content of my poems derives largely from those parts of my life which are directly experienced. Relationships with people or places; images and insights which have presented themselves sharply from whatever source, conscious or subconscious; ideas triggered off by language itself” (qtd. in Contemporary Authors). Her poetry is characterized by impressionability because of the ways Adcock links subject and tone with her immediate setting and surroundings.  Adcock is often referred to as “the expatriate poet” because her life has been split between New Zealand and England and both countries claim her as their own. “The awareness of the split in her life makes Adcock concentrate on the present, leading to rich description and clear imagery. She often focuses on particular places, immediate and concrete, to suggest that which is missing, using the present landscape as a backdrop for the ‘receding pictures’ it emotionally evokes” (Feminist Writers).

Adcock was trained as a classicist and much of her early work emphasizes structure, rhyme, and meter, as evidenced in The Eye of the Hurricane. Her first book of poetry contains reflections of her life in New Zealand, with a few poems written in England. Her second collection, Tigers, contains both new poems and the poems from The Eye of the Hurricane which she wanted to preserve. The poems in this book, such as “The Cave,” focus on the conflict between the necessity of her urban life and Adcock’s deeper desire to be free of society.

Beans grow well here, and little turnips.
Sometimes I find mushrooms
Or nuts, and every week I go
To the farm for eggs, cheese,
Salt and oatmeal.
Often they give me
Olives and figs as well.
It is half a day’s journey from here.
(I sometimes think of her
Shopping in the supermarket, fixed
Nervously by a shelf
Of tins, hesitating between three
Brands of coffee, in four
Different sizes.)

The subject of Adcock’s poetry is often unromantic, yet she provides a deeper, sometimes dark, twist on what appears to be a mundane situation. High Tide in the Garden, published in 1971, reflects a return to domestic concerns. She writes about the house in East Finchley which she had just purchased and several poems reflecting back on her son Gregory and her previous life in New Zealand.

The Scenic Route focuses on Adcock’s relationship with her Irish ancestors; the poems in this book are shorter and more imagistic than is typical of her style. Her earlier poems based on domesticity convey a feeling of familiarity; the poems in this collection are known as her travel poems and “cherish the variable physical details of a world viewed freshly” (Dictionary of Literary Biography). These poems integrate Adcock’s interior landscape with the exterior world that she is exploring.

Adcock’s next collection, The Inner Harbor, was written after a traumatic return to New Zealand. The book is divided into four sections and confronts the issues of love, death, and loss. In the final section, her poems reflect an acceptance and coming to terms with the losses that Adcock experienced thus far in her life.

Since 1980, Adcock’s poetry has broken new ground. She experiments with different voices and speakers, moving away from direct observations and into an exploration of the unconscious. Her themes continue to include ancestry/history, love, death, childhood, and sex.

Awards

Festival of Wellington Poetry Award, 1961.
New Zealand State Literary Fund Award for Achievement (with others), 1964.
Buckland Award (New Zealand), 1968 and 1979.
Jesse MacKay Prize (New Zealand), 1968 and 1972.
Cholmondeley Award, 1976.
New Zealand National Book Award, 1984.
Art’s Council Writers’ Award, 1988.
Order of the British Empire, 1996.

Writings by Adcock

Poetry

  • Adcock, Fleur. Below Loughrigg. Newcastle upon Tyne: Bloodaxe Books, 1979.
  • —. Dragon Talk. Newcastle upon Tyne: Bloodaxe Books, 2010.
  • —. The Eye of the Hurricane. Wellington, Australia: Reed, 1964.
  • —. Four-Pack, One: Four from Northern Women. Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Bloodaxe Books, 1986.
  • —. High Tide in the Garden. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971.
  • —. Hotspur: A Ballad for Music (libretto), music by Gillian Whitehead. Newcastle upon Tyne: Bloodaxe Books, 1986.
  • —. The Incident Book. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986.
  • —. The Inner Harbour. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979.
  • —. Looking Back. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.
  • —. Meeting the Comet. Newcastle upon Tyne: Bloodaxe Books, 1988.
  • —. Poems 1960-2000. Newcastle upon Tyne: Bloodaxe Books, 2000.
  • —. The Scenic Route. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1974.
  • —. Selected Poems. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983. (With Maura Dooley, S. J. Litherland, and Jill Maugham)
  • —. Tigers. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1967.
  • —. Time-Zones. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991.

Other

  • The 2nd Wellington International Poetry Festival Anthology, Contributor, Adcock. Eds. Mark Pirie,  Ron Riddell and Saray Torres. Wellington: HeadworX, 2004.
  • Craeasnaru, Daniela. Letters from Darkness: Poems. Trans. by Adcock. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991.
  • The Faber Book of 20th Century Women’s Poetry. Ed. by Adcock. London: Faber and Faber, 1987.
  • Hugh Primas and the Archpoet. Trans. and ed. by Adcock. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.
  • The Oxford Book of Contemporary New Zealand Poetry, Ed. by Adcock.  Auckland and London: Oxford University Press, 1982.
  • The Oxford Book of Creatures. Ed. by Adcock and Jacqueline Simms. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.
  • Tartler, Grete. Orient Express: Poems. Trans. by Adcock. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991.
  • —.The Virgin and the Nightingale. Trans by Adcock. Newcastle upon Tynne: Bloodaxe Books, 1983.

Bibliography

  • Allnutt, Gillian. “Genealogies.” Poetry Review 88:1 (Spring 1998): 95-6.
  • Bleiman, Barbara (ed.). Five modern poets: Fleur Adcock, U.A. Fanthorpe, Tony Harrison, Anne Stevenson, Derek Walcott. New York: Longman, 1993.
  • Edmond, Lauris. “All interview with Fleur Adcock.” Landfall: A New Zealand Literary Magazine 36 (1982): 320-6.
  • Gregson, Ian. “Your voice speaking in my poems: polyphony in Fleur Adcock.” English: the Journal of the English
  • Association 42:174 (Fall 1993): 239-51.
  • Hulse, Michael. “Fleur Adcock: a poet with bite.” Quadrant 28:197 (Jan/Feb 1984): 52-53.
  • Robinson, Lillian S., (ed.). Modern Women Writers. Volume One. New York, NY: Continuum Publishing Co., 1996.
  • Ruddick, Bill. “A clear channel flowing: the poetry of Fleur Adcock.” Critical Quarterly 26:4 (1984): 61-66.

Articles by Adcock

  • “Beginnings.” Islands 7 (1979): 347-56.
  • “Some dangerous beautiful dislocation.” Listener. 101: 2206: 22-3.
  • “Rural blitz: Fleur Adcock’s English childhood.” Poetry Review. 74: 2 (June 1984) :5-12.
  • “Geneology and poetry”. GRINZ Yearbook. 1993: 1-9.
  • “The way it happens”. The Poet’s Voice and Draft, ed. C.B. McCully. Manchester: Carcanet, 1994.
  • “Weilding the jawbone of an ass”. New Zealand Books 4 (2):1 (August 1994): 11-12.

Works Cited

  • Feminist Writers. Edited by Pamela Kester-Shelton. Detroit: St. James Press, 1996.
  • Gale Database: Contemporary Authors. The Gale Group, 1999.
  • Gale Database: Dictionary of Literary Biography. The Gale Group, 1999.

Author: Meghan Cooney, Spring 1999
Last edited: April 2012

Nasrin, Taslima

Introduction

Nasrin speaking in Melbourne

Image by Barrylb/CC Licensed

“She is either the bravest or most foolish person I’ve ever met,” a friend of Nasrin’s is quoted as saying (Weaver 49). There is no question about the bravery of Taslima Nasrin — the daughter of a county physician father and a devoutly religious mother, who was suddenly thrust into the spotlight after the angry response of Islamic militants to her feminist writings. Nasrin’s writings express her thoughts on religion, feminism, and sexuality–issues that are often controversial in the traditional Muslim society of Bangladesh. Hindu and Muslim fundamentalist groups quickly took public stances about Nasrin’s work: Hindu fundamentalists adopted her as their new ally, distributing copies of her book, whereas Muslim fundamentalists burned hundreds of copies of her work, Lajja (Shame), and demanded her execution. Based on stories of Hindu-Muslim violence and the destruction of the Babri Masjid mosque in India, the novella tells the tale of a fictional Hindu family in Bangladesh made to suffer atrocities at the hands of Muslim fundamentalists following the mosque’s destruction. Taslima Nasrin became “both a creation of and a vehicle for religious extremists across the Indian subcontinent” (Weaver 55).

Biography

  • Born in 1962 in Mymensingh, a small town in present-day Bangladesh.
  • Received M.B.B.S. from Mymensingh Medical College in 1984.
  • Later moved to Dhaka, to complete residency and work in a government clinic.
  • Late 1980s: came into prominence as a poet, columnist, novelist, and fiercely independent feminist.
  • Began writing for various newspapers and magazines in 1989.
  • Attacks on her began in 1992 and continued after her publication of the novella Lajja in 1993.
  • May 1994: her passport was confiscated, her book banned, bounties were placed on her head, and a fatwa came in after she made a statement in an English language newspaper, The Statesman, that “the Koran should be revised thoroughly” (qtd. in Sen).  Her assertion was quickly clarified two days later in an editorial, but not before religious groups had already become aware of her statement.
  • August, 1994: after months of hiding and escaping, she eventually sought amnesty from the Women Writers’ Committee of International PEN.
  • 1994-2012: Nasrin has lived in exile in Sweden, France and the United States. From 2004-2007, she returned to India, but eventually was put on house arrest because of her continued writing and activism. She recently held a research fellowship with New York University.

Two Poems

“Happy Marriage”

My life,
like a sandbar, has been taken over by a monster of a man.
He wants my body under his control
so that if he wishes he can spit in my face,
slap me on the cheek
and pinch my rear.
So that if he wishes he can rob me of my clothes
and take the naked beauty in his grip.
So that if he wishes he can pull out my eyes,
so that if he wishes he can chain my feet,
if he wishes, he can, with no qualms whatsoever,
use a whip on me,
if he wishes he can chop off my hands, my fingers.
If he wishes he can sprinkle salt in the open wound,
he can throw ground-up black pepper in my eyes.
So that if he wishes he can slash my thigh with a dagger,
so that if he wishes he can string me up and hang me.

He wanted my heart under his control
so that I would love him:
in my lonely house at night,
sleepless, full of anxiety,
clutching at the window grille,
I would wait for him and sob,
My tears rolling down, I would bake homemade bread;
so that I would drink, as if they were ambrosia,
the filthy liquids of his polygynous body.
So that, loving him, I would melt like wax,
not turning my eyes toward any other man,
I would give proof of my chastity all my life.
So that, loving him
on some moonlit night I would commit suicide
in a fit of ecstasy

(Wright 18)

“Border”

I’m going to move ahead.
Behind me my whole family is calling,
my child is pulling at my sari-end,
my husband stands blocking the door,
but I will go.
There’s nothing ahead but a river
I will cross.
I know how to swim, but they
won’t let me swim, won’t let me cross.

There’s nothing on the other side of the river
but a vast expanse of fields,
but I’ll touch this emptiness once
and run against the wind, whose whooshing sound
makes me want to dance. I’ll dance someday
and then return.

I’ve not played keep-away for years
as I did in childhood.
I’ll raise a great commotion playing keep-away someday
and then return.

For years I haven’t cried with my head
in the lap of solitude.
I’ll cry to my heart’s content someday
and then return.

There’s nothing ahead but a river
and I know how to swim.
Why shouldn’t I go? I’ll go.

(Wright 19)

Discussion of “Happy Marriage” and “Border”

In her two poems “Happy Marriage” and “Border” from the collection The Game in Reverse, Nasrin describes two different instances of male domination over women with two very different resolutions.

In the poem “Happy Marriage,” a woman speaks of how her husband has taken control of her entire life, desiring to hold absolute power over her body. She describes her husband as a “monster” who physically, emotionally and sexually abuses her. In the first half of the poem, Nasrin writes about the male’s fantasies of control in visceral terms. In the second stanza, Nasrin’s speaker explains to the reader why her husband did the things he did: he wanted her to love him, to pine away for him, and when she didn’t he became frustrated. She illustrates a vivid picture of a woman mad with love, literally going crazy and committing suicide as a testament to her ecstasy at his hands. Nasrin creates a very melodramatic, overly romantic image, building it up further and further in order to convey her sarcasm and cynicism in her regards to the husband’s wishes. She is mocking him outright in her over-dramatization of the ideal situation he has decided in his head, and she culminates the vision in the wife’s killing herself out of love: the supreme way of demonstrating her love for her husband. However, Nasrin’s mention of suicide also can be interpreted as perhaps a foreshadowing of the wife’s future; her only possible escape from her husband’s oppressive control over her.

The poem “Border” differs significantly from “Happy Marriage” in the means by which the wife comes to terms with her husband’s dominion over her. In “Border,” the speaker is restrained by her husband forbidding her to escape, but also by her duties as a mother and as the nurturer of the family. She realizes that escape will not be easy; she sees it as being quite an obstacle, but she has confidence in her ability to survive and make it on her own. In the first stanza she compares the hardships she must conquer to a river that must be crossed, but despite the fact that she knows she can do it, her family “won’t let me swim, won’t let me cross.” In the second, third, and fourth stanzas, the speaker discusses the freedoms that await her on the other side of the “river;” she revels in the notions of being able to do things she has not done in years, since her youth and she makes a promise to go across, find some freedom, and return. The ending of the poem gives the reader a great sense of hope for the speaker — she realizes her oppressed state and desires to get out of it; she knows she has the capabilities to do so; she also knows her responsibilities to her family, but she does not let that stand in the way of achieving the freedom she has promised herself. This concern for the self is something refreshing that is found in Nasrin’s poetry — according to the traditional expectations and values of this society, women are constantly expected to sacrifice their own personal freedom and happiness for the sake of husbands, children, and family. However, through the poem “Border,” Nasrin reaffirms the woman as a human being who has duties and responsibilities to her family, but is also worthy of satisfying her own desires and aspirations.

Works Cited

  • Nasrin, Taslima. “Bengali Women: Tongues Untied.” World Press Review. vol. 42, Jun 1995.
  • —. “Beyond the Scriptures.” The Statesman. 11 May 1994.
  • —. The Game in Reverse. New York: George Brazilier, 1995.
  • Sen, Sujata. “I write because I want to change society.” The Statesman. 9 May 1994: 2A.
  • Weaver, Mary Anne. “A Fugitive from Injustice.” The New Yorker. 12 Sept. 1994: 48.
  • Wright, Carolyn. “Taslima Nasrin’s Translator Tells How Bangladeshi Writer Became Cause Celebre.” The PEN Newsletter.  vol.86, Winter 1995.

List of Major Works

Collections of Poetry

  • Nasrin, Taslima. Amar kichu jay ase na (I Couldn’t Care Less). Mymensingh, Sakal: 1988.
  • —. Atale antarin (Captive in the Abyss). Dhaka: Vidyaprakas, 1991.
  • —. Ay kasta jhepe, jiban debo mepe (Pain Come Pouring Down, I’ll Measure Out My Life for You). Dhaka: Jnankos Prakasani, 1994.
  • —. Behula eka bhasiyechila bhela (Behula Floated the Raft Alone). Dhaka: Sikha Prakasani, 1993.
  • —. The Game in Reverse. New York: George Braziller, 1995.
  • —. Nirbasita bahire antare (Banished Without and Within). 1989.

Novellas/Novels

  • Nasrin, Taslima. Lajja (Shame). Amherst: Prometheus, 1993.
  • —. Forashi Premik (French Lover). India: Penguin India, 2002.
  • —. Meyebela: My Bengali Childhood. South Royalton: Steerforth Press, 2002.

Awards

  • The Ananda Prize – Calcutta, 1992.
  • The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought – Prague, 1994.
  • Humanist Laureate from International Academy for Humanism, USA, 1996
  • Ananda literary Award, India, 2000
  • Fellowship at Carr Centre for Human Rights Policy, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, USA, 2003
  • UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the promotion of tolerance and non-violence, 2004
  • Simone de Beauvoir Prize, 2008
  • Fellowship at New York University, USA, 2009
  • Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, USA, 2009
  • Feminist Press award, USA, 2009

Related Sites

Nasrin’s website
http://taslimanasrin.com/index2.html

Video of 2012 speech
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxijb9CdCGk

 

Author: Arthi Devarajan, Spring 1998

Last edited: June 2012

Alexander, Meena

Biography

Image of Meena Alexander

Image by Tamara Abul Hadi/CC Licensed

Mary Elizabeth Alexander was born in Allahabad, India, on February 17, 1951. Although christened Mary Elizabeth, she has been called “Meena” since birth, and, in her fifteenth year, she officially changed her name to Meena. Not so much an act of defiance as one of liberation, Alexander writes: “I felt I had changed my name to what I already was, some truer self, stripped free of the colonial burden” in her autobiography, Fault Lines (74). Representing her own multilingual nature, “Meena” means in “fish” in Sanskrit, “jewelling” in Urdu, and “port” in Arabic.  Alexander and her family lived in Allahabad, yet returned every summer to Kerala where her mother’s parents resided.

In 1956, the Sudan gained independence and asked other Third World countries for assistance in establishing its government. Alexander’s father applied for a job with the Sudanese government and the family relocated to Khartoum. From age five to eighteen, Alexander traversed the waters between the Sudan and India, between Khartoum and Kerala, and between her immediate family and her grandparents. Once she was eighteen and had received her degree from Khartoum University, Alexander left her Sudanese home for Nottingham University in Britain. It was here that she earned her Ph.D., but her tie with India was not broken. She returned to Pune to her grandparents, and ended up working at Delhi University, Central Institute of Hyderabad, and Hyderabad University.

It was in Hyderabad that Alexander met her husband, David Lelyveld. In 1979, the two moved to New York City, where they still live with their two children: Adam Kuravilla Lelyveld (b. 1980) and Svati Maraiam Lelyveld (b. 1986). Alexander is currently a professor at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and still takes trips back to Kerala annually.

Literature

Meena Alexander’s literary career began early, at the tender age of ten, when she began writing poetry, and while her poetry might be her best-known work, her works span a variety of literary genres. Her first book, a single lengthy poem, entitled The Bird’s Bright Wing, was published in 1976 in Calcutta.

Since then, Alexander has published eight volumes of poetry, including River and Bridge; two novels: Nampally Road (1991) and Manhattan Music (1997); two collections of both prose and poetry, The Shock of Arrival: Reflections on Postcolonial Experience and Poetics of Dislocation; a study on Romanticism: Women in Romanticism: Mary Wollstonecraft, Dorothy Wordsworth and Mary Shelley; and her autobiography, Fault Lines.

Establishing Identity in Fault Lines

Fault Lines is Alexander’s autobiography. Not only an unraveling of her past, the book also highlights themes that occur in Alexander’s poetry. As a result of her family’s relocations as a youth, Alexander struggles in Fault Lines to forge a sense of identity, despite a past full of moves and changes. Thus, this work revolves around the theme of establishing one’s self, an identity independent of one’s surroundings. In her autobiography she writes: “I am, a woman cracked by multiple migrations. Uprooted so many times she can connect nothing with nothing” (3). In fact, the title itself suggests a questioning of lines, boundaries, definitions of oneself. As Alexander writes, “I am a poet writing in America. But American poet?. . . An Asian-American poet then?. . . Poet tout court?. . . woman poet, a woman poet of color, a South Indian woman who makes up lines in English. . . A Third World woman poet. . .?” (193). Alexander searches for her own identity and self-creation amidst a world that strives to define, identify, and label people. These definitions of race and nationality prove difficult to defy.

The tension surrounding self-identification emerges in a scene where Alexander’s son, Adam, encounters a man who asks him: “What are you?” Adam, of mixed heritage, chooses to identify himself as neither American nor Indian, but, rather, a Jedi knight (172). Alexander asks: “What did my first-born wish for himself? Some nothingness, some transitory zone where dreams roamed, a border country without passport or language?” (172).  Even choosing a cultural identification has its boundaries and borders by which to abide.

Early in her youth, Alexander’s mother tells her she must never take a job, that her work is to raise her children (14). Alexander’s choices obviously took her in a direction different from that which her mother had taught her, choosing both a career and a family. Thus, the process of self-creation for Alexander has numerous facets: creating an identity despite a patchwork past; fighting against definitions demanded by greater society; and, also, fighting against traditions and definitions enforced within the community.

English and Colonialism in Fault Lines

Alexander emerged from a postcolonial country; thus, her work deals with personal as well as national concerns. One of these themes is the use of the English language. Though she has written in French, Hindi and Malayalam, Alexander’s work is predominantly in English. As with so many other postcolonial authors, Alexander struggles in Fault Lines  with the use of English itself:

    There is a violence in the very language, American English, that we have to face, even as we work to make it ours, decolonize it so that it will express the truth of bodies beaten and banned. After all, for such as we are the territories are not free.  (199)

She also asks, “Was English in India a no man’s land?” (126). In other words, was the use of English a betrayal to India’s, and thus Alexander’s, past? English was a leftover of colonialism; of its association with British rule, Alexander writes: “Colonialism seems intrinsic to the burden of English in India, and I felt robbed of literacy in my own mother tongue” (128).  Alexander struggles to develop her sense of identity in a culture still imprinted with the stamps of Britain. Alexander demonstrates in this autobiography both her triumph of will and her artistic talent.

Poetry within Fault Lines

Some of the same images used in Fault Lines surface in Alexander’s poetry. “No man’s land”  is a particularly poignant image because it stems from growing up in a postcolonial country, where boundaries and borders are blurred into a “No man’s land”. Here, in an excerpt from her poem “Night-Scene, the Garden,” these images are very strong:

My back against barbed wire
snagged and coiled to belly height
on granite posts
glittering to the moon

No man’s land
no woman’s either
I stand in the middle of my life…

Out of earth’s soft
and turbulent core
a drum sounds summoning ancestors

They rise
through puffs of grayish dirt
scabbed skins slit
and drop from them

They dance
atop the broken spurts
of stone
They scuff
the drum skins
with their flighty heels.

(From Fault Lines. New York: The Feminist Press at the City University of New York, 1993.)

Works Cited

  • Alexander, Meena. Fault Lines. New York: The Feminist Press at the City University of New York, 1993.
  • Young, Jeffrey. “Creating a Life Through Education.” Chronicle of Higher Education 43: 27. 14 Mar.1997:  B8-B9.

Selected Bibliography

  • Alexander, Meena. The Poetic Self: Towards a Phenomenology of Romanticism. New Jersey: Humanities Press, 1979.
  • —. Stone Roots. New Delhi: Arnold-Heinemann, 1980.
  • —. House of a Thousand Doors. Washington, DC: Three Continents Press, 1988.
  • —. The Storm: A Poem in Five Parts. New York: Red Dust, 1989.
  • —. Women in Romanticism: Mary Wollstonecraft, Dorothy Wordsworth and Mary Shelley. Totowa: Barnes and Noble Press, 1989.
  • —. Nampally Road: a novel. Hyderabad: Disha Books, 1991.
  • —. Night Scene: The Garden. New York: Red Dust, 1992.
  • —. River and Bridge. Toronto: TSAR Publications, 1995.
  • —.  “Accidental Markings.” Modern Language Studies. 26:4 (Fall 1996): 133-136.
  • —. “Observing Ourselves among Others: Interview with Meena Alexander.” Between the Lines: South Asians and Postcoloniality. Eds. Deepika Bahri and Mary Vasudeva. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1996. 35-53.
  • —. The Shock of Arrival: Reflections on Postcolonial Experience. Boston: South End Press, 1996.
  • —. Manhattan Music. San Francisco: Mercury House, 1997.
  • —. Illiterate Heart. Evanston: Triquarterly Books, 2002.
  • —. Raw Silk. Evanston: Triquarterly Books, 2004.
  • —. Quickly Changing River. Evanston: Triquarterly Books, 2008.
  • —. Poetics of Dislocation. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2009.
  • Nair, Hema. “Bold Type: The Poetry of Multiple Migrations.” Ms. Jan. 1994: 71.
  • Rubin, Merle. “A Romantic Faces Reality.” Rev. of Nampally Road by Meena Alexander. Los Angeles Times. 27 Jan. 1991: BR1.
  • Tammie, Bob. “Bombay and Beyond: Three Indian-American Writers Examine Cultural Conflict and Identity.” Rev. of Manhattan Music, by Meena Alexander. Chicago Tribune. 25 May 1997: sec 14: 1. Print.

Author: Carolyn Walters, Spring 1998
Last edited: April 2012

Mushaira Goshthi


 

 


Introduction

This page was developed to mark the establishment of a multilingual, multi-religious poetry club for the community in Atlanta, and for faculty and students  at Emory University. The club is no longer active, but this page has been retained to furnish introductory information about the traditions of Mushairas and Goshthis in the Indian subcontinent.


Mushaira or Goshthi–a Literary Gathering

Inherently interactive, “Mushaira” or “Goshthi” meetings are literary gatherings at which participants recite, or even sing, poems for an audience that participates by anticipating the rhyme scheme, joining in the refrain, or simply appreciating the performance vocally through customary interjections. Performers—for indeed skilful elocution or recitation is seen as a performance rather than simply a reading—may recite either their own poetry or well known pieces from within the tradition.  Such gatherings celebrate creativity as much as they do literary appreciation or connaisseurship,both of which must be performed with equal skill.

Hindi and Urdu literary gatherings are a part of the rich tradition of the subcontinent, and serve as valuable extra-institutional sites for the practice and enjoyment of language and literature.


Mushaira-Goshthi in a Geopolitical Context

The formulation Mushaira-Goshthi signals the enviable tradition of harmonious Hindu-Muslim co-existence in the Indian subcontinent.  The “Hindustani” tradition is one of mutual intelligibility and appreciation between Hindi and Urdu-language poets and audiences.  Given episodes of communal conflict in the Indian subcontinent, and in light of the gradual erosion of this tradition of mutuality, Mushaira-Goshthi serves as a salutary reminder of syncretism in practice.  The club will actively solicit participation from the Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi community by providing a multicultural and multireligious forum that is sadly all too rare these days in the South Asian community. Moreover, although links of the literary tradition to Middle Eastern cultures are rarely discussed, Mushaira-Goshthi also provides opportunities for revisiting this forgotten historical lineage.


Related Links 

Hulme, Keri

Book cover of The Bone People.

The Bone People, 1984

Biography

Keri Hulme, a New Zealand native, was born on March 9, 1947 in Christchurch, New Zealand. She is the daughter of John W., a carpenter and businessman, and Mere, a credit manager, and sister to five siblings. Her father died when she was very young– eleven years old. Hulme is descendant from a rich background. She noted in Contemporary Women Poets that she is a mix of “Kai Tahu, Kāti Mamoe (South Island Maori); Orkney islanders; Lancashire folk; Faroese and/or Norwegian migrants”. Her early education was at Aranui High School. Upon graduation she began working at a tobacco farm harvesting crop. Between 1967-68 Hulme sought a law degree from the University of Canterbury but did not complete her degree. After leaving law school, Hulme returned to tobacco picking.  Throughout her career she has held numerous other jobs including fisher, TV director, cook, and a writer. She was a writer in residence at Otago University in New Zealand in 1978, and in 1985, at the University of Canterbury. Keri Hulme has said that she enjoys fishing, painting, drinking, reading, walking, playing, eating, and people-watching in her spare time (Who’s Who 309). She belongs to the New Zealand Literary Fund (advisory committee) and the New Zealand Indecent Publications Tribunal. She is a patron of the Republican Movement of Aotearoa New Zealand and a founder of the Wellington Women’s Gallery. As of 2012 she is the only New Zealander to win the Booker Prize.

Awards

Hulme has won many prestigious awards for her work including:

  • the Katherine Mansfield Memorial Award (1975),
  • the New Zealand Literary Fund Grant (1975, 1977, 1979),
  • Maori Trust Fund Prize (for writing in English) (1977)
  • mini-Burns Fellowship (1977),
  • the East-West Centre Award (1979),
  • Writing Bursary (1983),
  • the Book of the Year Award (1984),
  • NZ Book Award (fiction) (1984), shared Canty Writing fellowship (1985),
  • Mobil Pegasus Award (for Maori literature) (1985),
  • Booker-McConnell Prize (1985),
  • Chianti Ruddino regional Award (1987),
  • and the Scholarship in Letters (1990).

Works by Keri Hulme

  • Hulme, Keri. The Bone People, New Zealand: Spiral & Hodder and Stoughton, 1984.
  • —. Homeplaces: Three Coasts of the South Island of New Zealand. Abingdon: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd1989.
  • —. Lost Possessions. Melbourne: Victoria University Press, 1985.
  • —. Strands. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992
  • —. Te Kainau: The Windeater. New York: George Braziller, 1987.
  • —. Te Whenua, Te Iwi/The Land and The People. Christchurch: Port Nicholson Press, 1987.
  • —. The Silence Between. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982.
  • —. Stonefish. HUIA PUBLISHERS, Wellington, 2004.
  • —. Bait. London: Pan Macmillian, 2009.

She is currently working on Bait‘s companion novel, On the Shadow Side.

The Bone People

The Bone People, Hulme’s most famous work, evolved from a short story entitled “Simon Peter’s Shell.” She wanted to incorporate both real and invented Maori myths into her novel. The Bone People focuses on three main characters. The central character is Kerewin Holmes (a character similar to Hulme) who lives isolated in a seaside tower, a mute child named Simon, and his abusive stepfather Joe Gillayley. Hulme explains: “‘What I was doing in The Bone People was getting my head straight on questions like: What happens to outcasts? Is there any point to life? What would happen if Maori spiritual presence was resurrected in this land of ours?’ She describes her story as a deliberate attempt to manufacture New Zealand myth, to blend real and invented Maori legends with European literary style, harmonizing both of her country’s cultural influences’”(Contemporary Literary Criticism 158). The Bone People was rejected by many publishers, until 1981 when a small feminist publishing company, the Spiral, was formed by women who were enthusiastic about the novel. The novel was printed in an unedited form and has received international critical acclaim since its publication.

Themes

Hulme’s books incorporate a conglomerate of themes. She writes on love, violence, identity, nationality, and the responsibility of citizens. She also incorporates themes of “exploitation of the land, family violence, and the regeneration of Maori spirituality [...] Critics most often praise Hulme for her imaginative and powerful style that blends reality and myth in a simple, yet serious, narrative; they note that the themes of love, violence, national identity, and social responsibility are compellingly examined through the relationships of the three main characters” (Contemporary Literary Criticism 158) in The Bone People. Hulme’s style ranges from prose to poetry, incorporating both reality and myths which have no beginning and no end. For more information about Hulme consult her interview in CA from March 1987. In it, Hulme revealed a lot about herself, her works, and her life.

Works Cited

  • “Contemporary Authors, Keri Hulme”. 1989. gale.com. Web. 18 Oct. 1997.
  • “Interview with Keri Hulme”. Contemporary Authors, Keri Hulme. 1989. gale.com. Web. 18 Oct. 1997.
  • “Keri Hulme.” Contemporary Literary Criticism: Yearbook 1985. Vol. 39. Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research Co,1986. 158-167.
  • “Keri Hulme.” Who’s Who in New Zealand. 12th Edition. Octopus Publishing Co., 1991. 309.
  • “Keri Hulme.” Bateman Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Auckland, New Zealand: Bateman Publishing Co,1986. 579.
  • “New Zealand literature: Modern Maori Literature.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2012. Web. 11 Apr. 1997. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/412777/New-Zealand-literature>.

Author: Hayley Scheck, Fall 1997


Maori Culture and Myths in The Bone People

Introduction

The Bone People by Keri Hulme traces the lives of Kerewin, Joe, and Simon, who live in a remote part of New Zealand. Hulme, part Maori herself, uses the Maori language in the book and makes many references to Maori culture and myths. New Zealand was first colonized by the Maoris and later by the Pakehas, or Europeans. The Maoris have their own set of myths and traditions which address the questions about how and where life began. Anthropologists believe that the Maoris came from islands in or around Polynesia. They believe that the Maori people may have sailed to Aotearoa, meaning New Zealand in Maori dialect, from the Pacific around 700 A.D.

Maori Origin Myths

In The Bone People, Tiaki, a wise Maori sage, shows Joe, who is a Maori, a canoe from their ancestors’ voyage to Aotearoa. Tiaki says:”The canoe … it has power, because of where it came from, and who built it, but it is just a canoe. One of the great voyaging ships of our people” (Hulme 364). Anthropologists have different ideas as to which island they believe to be the exact “launching place” of the Maoris. The myth that began this tradition of the sacred canoes stems from the belief that Hawaiki was the legendary launching place of the Maori people (Ihimaera 8). One collectively held belief is that “they had a common origin; and archaeologists have now established that they are descended from a horticultural, sea-going people who several thousand years ago lived in certain parts of what is now Melanesia, mostly on small islands of the northern coast of New Guinea and down as far as New Calcedonia” (Orbell 4). They are believed to have migrated several times to different islands before settling in New Zealand. The traditional canoes believed to be from Hawaiki are called: Tainui, Te Arawa, Maataatua, Kurahaupo, Tokomaru, Aotea, Takitimu, Horouta, and Nga Tokimatawhaorua (Ihimaera 9). Today Maori tribes are organized around which canoe a person’s ancestors are believed to have sailed on to Aotearoa. According to Maori myth, three voyages were to have taken place, but the third voyage was the one in which New Zealand was cultivated. The creation myth of the Maoris is most throughly demonstrated in the novel through Joe becoming the protector of one of the sacred canoes. The Maoris are a polytheistic society and through Joe’s protection of the canoe, the secrets of one of the Maori gods remains safe.

The Source of Maori Life

According to Maori myth, not only did the Maori people come from Hawaiki, but human life was created on Hawaiki. These two myths were created by the Maoris to explain the origin of man. The first myth tells the story of how the first “human being” was made by Tiki, a man himself, from the soil of Hawaiki. Tiki made the first man to look like himself and breathed into it in order to give it life. This event is re-enacted every time a child grows in a woman’s womb, so according to myth, each Maori comes from Hawaiki (Orbell 13). The second myth is the myth of Tura, who has a special role in the initiation of childbirth. Tura teaches the people of Hawaiki how to use fire and sets in motion the birth cycle, thus establishing the human biological cycle and the customs relating to birth (Orbell 14). In these two myths, Hawaiki is the source of human life. This connection shows how valuable the myths of Hawaiki are to Maori cultural traditions.

The Bone People

Hulme creates a new language in The Bone People. The book appears as a hybrid of cultures, just like Hulme’s life. She is part-Maori, part-Pakeha (European) as is her character Kerewin Holmes. Kerewin speaks in English mainly, but she, Joe, and Simon seem to converse in a language all of their own. As Simon does not speak, he signs to them while they speak to him in a mixture of English and Maori. “The language employed by Miss Hulme’s characters tends to range, back and forth, from the lyrical to the crude” (Kakutani 161). She not only ranges from lyrical to crude, but from English to Maori to Simon’s sign language. Hulme allows the reader a glimpse at Maori culture through her use of language and the foregrounding of Maori myths, which are the crux of Maori culture. Hulme blends the Pakeha and Maori cultures as well as myths through her language and use of the ancient myths of the Maori people.

Works Cited

  • Hulme, Keri. The Bone People. New York: Penguin Books, 1983.
  • Ihimaera, Witi. Maori. Wellington, New Zealand: A.R. Shearer, Government Printer, 1975.
  • Kakutani, Michiko. “The Bone People.” New York Times. 13 Nov. 1985, C23. Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Sharon K. Hall. Vol. 39. Detroit: Gale, 1986. 161-62.
  • Orbell, Margaret. Hawaiki: A New Approach to Maori Tradition. Christchurch, New Zealand: Griffin Press, 1985.

Works to Consult

  • Farca, Paula Anca. Identity in place : contemporary indigenous fiction by women writers in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. New York : Peter Lang, 2011.
  • Hunt, Alex and Bonnie Roos. Postcolonial green : environmental politics & world narratives. ed. Bonnie Roos & Alex Hunt. Charlottesville : University of Virginia Press, 2010.
  • Morris, Holly. Uncommon waters : women write about fishing. ed. Holly Morris. Seattle: Seal Press, 1998.
  • Nasta, Susheila. Writing across worlds : contemporary writers talk. ed Susheila Nasta. London ; New York : Routledge, 2004.
  • Stachurski, Christina. Reading Pakeha? : fiction and identity in Aotearoa New Zealand. New York : Rodopi 2009.

Related Sites

New Zealand Travel Guide
http://nz.com/NZ/Culture/ 

Author: Kelly Smith, Fall 1997
Last edited: July 2012

Wendt, Albert

Biography

Photo of Wendt in Hawaii

Image by Kanaka Menehune/CC Licensed

Albert Wendt is an acclaimed novelist, poet and short-story writer who was born in Western Samoa in 1939. At age 13, he was sent from Western Samoa to the New Plymouth Boys’ High School in New Zealand on a government scholarship. Wendt stayed in New Zealand to eventually earned an MA in history from Victoria University in Wellington. His writing has been inspired by his experiences of growing up both in Samoa and New Zealand and his continued affection for both of these lands and the rich and complex cultures they contain. In 1965 Wendt returned to Samoa to teach at, and eventually run, Samoa College. In 1974, he took up an appointment as Senior Lecturer in English at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji. Always interested in the administrative side of academia, he eventually became chair of the English Department, Dean of the School of Education, and eventually the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University. In 1998 he moved to the University of Auckland where he was appointed Professor of New Zealand Literature. Regarded by many as the Pacific’s most talented writer, Wendt has written novels, short story collections and poetry collections. His third novel, Leaves of the Banyan Tree, won the New Zealand Wattie Book of the Year Award. He has also edited two major anthologies of contemporary Pacific literature, Lali (1980)and Nuanua(1995), as well as a series of five volumes on contemporary poetry from Fiji, Samoa, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, and the New Hebrides for Mana Publications. Thus, Wendt has not only been a key contributor to Pacific literature, but he has been a major force in its promotion both within and beyond the academy.

Themes and Ideas in Wendt’s Writings

Language

Sons for the Return Home book cover

Sons for the Return Home, 1973

Wendt’s innovative uses of language is a notable feature of his work.  In his very first published story, “Tagata, the Man who Searched for the Freedom Tree” (1963), for example, some of the characters in his story speak a “Samoan pidgin” of English that does away with articles, omits the auxiliary “to be,” dispenses with inflections for the plural, and uses a simplified form of the present for all tenses. In Leaves of the Banyan Tree(1979), this experiment is developed further through the use of multiple narrative voices, which are humorously called “English-style,” “Vaipe-style” (the version of pidgin spoken in the capital city of Apia), and “my-style,” a supposed synthesis of the other forms. Each of these voices carries a set of different cultural conceptions and limitations. For example, “English-style” cannot adequately account for the everyday experiences of Samoans. In essence, Wendt’s experiments with language are an attempt to show the tensions and issues involved in language use in the postcolony, a concern he has in common with many postcolonial writers. Specifically, his rendering of English as it might be spoken by Samoans serves to indicate the “localized” nature of colonial languages and the limited capacities of these colonial languages to express the experiences of the indigenous peoples.

Postmodernism and Traditional Polynesian Narrative Modes

Wendt’s writing is also characterized by intertextuality and self-reflexivity.  Black Rainbow (1992), for example, borrows heavily from science fiction, mystery thrillers, works of “high” culture such as Kafka, Joyce and Camus, Polynesian mythology, and pop culture icons such as Blade Runner and Star Wars.  The title itself is drawn from acclaimed Maori artist Ralph Hotere’s Black Rainbow lithograph series protesting nuclear testing in the Pacific. As Ellis has suggested, Black Rainbow is “about other texts, constantly calling attention to its status as fiction and to the processes of representation” (“Postmodernism” 101). In Ola (1991), Wendt begins the novel with a foreword in which he explains that the novel is based on the contents of three beer cartons left on his front verandah by someone named Olamaiileoti Farou Monroe. The contents of the cartons included mementos from Ola’s life including diary entries, lists of things to do, poetry, etc. With these raw materials, Wendt claims merely to have rearranged “the pieces in such a way that the readers (including Ola) could see the connections, a unity” (7-8). With such a forward, Wendt is not only demonstrating his characteristic playfulness but also highlighting the degree to which fiction is the imaginative assembly and rendering of various bits of tales told before, life experiences of the author, and the reinterpretations of historical events into a whole. One might be tempted to suggest that Wendt’s work has simply come to adopt postmodern narrative techniques such as an emphasis on the constructed nature of the work and intextuality. Wendt would however disagree with such a characterization, and argue that he is actually using and building upon traditional Polynesian narrative techniques. In an interview about these issues, he specifically points to his grandmother’s skill in telling fagogo, Samoan traditional stories, as a significant source of inspiration for him. In fagogo there is a set form, but significant freedom exists for the storyteller to add different, tangential stories, metanarrative comments, and even songs in the midst of the central narrative (Ellis “Techniques” 83-4). Indeed, Wendt has asserted that the styles of much of the writing being done by Pacific Islanders goes beyond realism to embrace pastiches of different elements.

Decolonizing Culture

“Our dead are woven into our souls like the hypnotic music of bone flutes: we can never escape them. If we let them they can help illuminate us to ourselves and one another. They can be a source of new-found pride, self-respect, and wisdom. Conversely they can be the aitu [Samoan: malevolent spirit] that will continue to destroy us by blinding us to the beauty we are so capable of becoming as individuals, cultures, nations. We must try to exorcise these aitu both old and modern” (“Towards a New Oceania” 642).

Ola book cover

Ola, 1991

Ellis has asserted that Wendt’s fiction “can be read as an examination of how cultures are created, how various syncretic forms emerge and can be shaped in crucial ways to affirm rather than deny the vitality of new forms taken by traditional cultures” (“A Postmodernism” 104-5). In a very succinct way, this statement points to a particularly prominent theme in Wendt’s writings: culture, its production and what culture “means” to those who bear it. Wendt deals most explicitly with these issues in his essay “Towards a New Oceania”  in which he rejects the position espoused by some indigenous elites in the Pacific (and elsewhere) that there should be a conscious return to a pre-contact past and a “traditional culture” untainted by Western influence. He disagrees not only with the characterization that cultures are static and can be somehow “preserved,” but also with the idea that the past was in any sense of the word “perfect.” He writes: “[t]here was no Fall, no sun-tanned Noble Savages existing in South Seas paradises, no Golden Age, except in Hollywood films … in the breathless sermons of our elite vampires, and in the fevered imaginations of our self-styled romantic revolutionaries” (644). He does, however, point out the importance of rooting oneself in one’s cultural traditions, as they are an important source of self-confidence, pride and wisdom. He is highly critical of the colonial institutions of school and church that were based on the colonizer’s racist assumptions of superiority. These two institutions “undermined our confidence and self-respect, and made many of us ashamed of our cultures, transforming many of into Uncle Toms and revenants and what V.S. Naipaul has called ‘mimic men,’ inducing in us the feeling that only the foreign is right or proper or worthwhile” (648). However, Wendt does wholeheartedly support innovation, change and reinterpretation of those traditions to meet contemporary needs and issues.  He rejects cultural homogeneity and the idea that a “true Samoan” must think/act/believe in a certain prescribed manner. Rather, he argues for a view where “usage determines authenticity” (644) and where the diversity of interpretations, views and beliefs of the different subcultures within a given society are the “life-blood” of that culture (646). Such a position cannot ignore the difficulty most groups and individuals will have in allowing such diversity to coexist in close proximity, but in Wendt’s opinion, allowing such diversity to blossom and grow is necessary for the growth and health of the larger culture and society.

Works by Wendt

Novels

  • Wendt, Albert. Sons for the Return Home. Aukland: Longmore Paul, 1973.
  • —. Pouliuli. Aukland: Longmore Paul, 1977.
  • —. Leaves of the Banyan Tree. Garden City: Doubleday, 1979.
  • —. Ola. New York: Penguin, 1991.
  • —. Black Rainbow. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1992.
  • —. The Mango’s Kiss.Ann Arbor: Vintage, 2003.
  • —. The Adventures of Vela. Wellington: Huia Puplishers, 2009.

Collections of Short Stories

  • Wendt, Albert. Flying Fox in a Freedom Tree. Aukland: Longmore Paul, 1974.
  • —. The Birth and Death of the Miracle Man. New York: Viking Press, 1986.
  • —. Small Packages. Aukland: Longmore Paul, 2000.
  • —. Seven New Zealand Novellas. Aukland: Reed Publishing, 2003.

Collections of Poetry

  • Wendt, Albert. Inside Us the Dead: Poems 1961 to 1975. Aukland: Longman Paul, 1976.
  • —. Shaman of Visions. Aukland: Aukland University Press, 1984.
  • —. Photographs. Aukland: Aukland University Press, 1995.
  • —. The Book of the Black Star. Aukland: Aukland University Press, 2002.

Anthologies edited by Albert Wendt

  • Wendt, Albert (ed.) Some Modern Poetry from Fiji. Suva: Mana Publications, 1975.
  • —. Some Modern Poetry from the New Hebrides. Suva: Mana Publications, 1975.
  • —. Some Modern Poetry from the Solomons. Suva: Mana Publications, 1975.
  • —. Some Modern Poetry from Vanuatu. Suva: Mana Publications, 1975.
  • —. Some Modern Poetry from Western Samoa. Suva: Mana Publications, 1975.
  • —. Lali, an Anthology of Pacific Literature. Aukland: Longman Paul, 1980.
  • —. Nuanua: Pacific Writing in English since 1980. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1996.
  • —. Whetu Moana: Contemporary Polynesian Poetry in English. Aukland: Aukland University Press, 2003.

Works Cited

  • Durix, Jean-Pierre. The Attempt “To Snare the Void and Give it Word.” International Literature in English: Essays on the Major Writers. R. L. Ross,ed. New York: Garland Press, 1991. 63-73.
  • Ellis, Juniper. “A Postmodernism of Resistance: Albert Wendt’s “Black Rainbow.” Ariel 25.4 (1994): 101-114.
  • Ellis, Juniper. “‘The Techniques of Storytelling’: An Interview with Albert Wendt.” Ariel 28 .3 (1997): 79-94.
  • Hereniko, V. & D. Hanlon. “An Interview with Albert Wendt.” The Contemporary Pacific  5.1 (1993): 112-131.
  • Wendt, Albert. Towards a New Oceania. Arnold Anthology of Post Colonial Literature in English. 1982.  J. Thieme, ed. New York: Arnold Press, 1996. 641-652.
  • Wendt, Albert. Ola. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1991.
  • Wendt, Albert. Leaves of the Banyan Tree. London: Penguin Press, 1978.

Published Interviews with Albert Wendt

  • Juniper Ellis. “‘The Techniques of Storytelling’: An Interview with Albert Wendt.” Ariel 28.3 (1997): 79-94.
  • Vilsoni Hereniko & David Hanlon. “An Interview with Albert Wendt.” The Contemporary Pacific 5.1 (1993): 112-131.
  • Michael Neill. Albert Wendt. In the Same Room: Conversations with New Zealand’s Writers. E. Alley and M. Williams, eds. Auckland: Auckland University Press, 1992. 100-118.
  • Ed Rampell. “An Angry Man: Albert Wendt, Scholar, Author.” Pacific Islands Monthly. 60.1 (1990): 55-57.
  • J.B. Beston. Interview with Albert Wendt. World Literature Written in English. 16.1 (1977): 151-162.

Selected Non-fiction Essays on Postcolonial Themes

  • “Towards a New Oceania. Writers in East-West encounter : new cultural bearings.” G. Amirthanayagam, ed. London: Macmillan, 1982. pp.205-215. Reprinted in Arnold Anthology of Post Colonial Literature in English. J. Thieme, ed. New York: Arnold Press, 1996. pp.641-652
  • “Pacific maps and fiction(s) : a personal journey.” Migration and New Zealand Society: proceedings of the Stout Research Centre Sixth Annual Conference. Wellington: Stout Research Centre, 1990. pp.59-81. Reprinted in Perceiving other worlds. Edwin Thumboo, ed. Singapore: Times Academy Press. 1991. pp.179-210. Reprinted also in Asian &Pacific Inscriptions : Identities, Ethnicities, Nationalities. Victoria, Australia: Meridian Press, 1995. pp.13-44

Other Resources

New Zealand Literature File, University of Auckland Library
http://www.nzlf.auckland.ac.nz/author/?a_id=167#m_wb_1

Author:  H. Odden, Fall 1998
Last edited: April 2012

Césaire, Aimé

Biography

Image of Aime Cesaire

Image by Parti socialiste/CC Licensed

Aimé Césaire was born in 1913 in Martinique in the French Caribbean. He left for Paris in 1931 at the age of 18 with a scholarship for school. During his time at the Lycee Louis-le Grand, he helped found a student publication, Etudiant Noir.  In 1936, Césaire started working on his famed piece Cahier, which was not published until 1939. He married fellow student Suzanne Roussi in 1937, and the couple moved back to Martinique with their son in 1939. Both Aime and Suzanne got jobs at the Lycee Schoelcher. In 1945, Césaire began his political career when he was elected mayor of Fort-de-France and deputy in the Constituent Assembly on the French Communist Party ticket. During the 1940s, Césaire was busy writing and publishing many collections of his work. He seemed to be influenced by art because he wrote a tribute to a painter named Wilfredo Lam and one of his collections has illustrations by Pablo Picasso. In 1956, Aime Césaire resigned from the French Communist Party and two years later he began the “Parti Progressiste Martiniquais.” During these years, Césaire attended two conferences for Negro Writers and Artists in Paris. In 1968 he published the first version of Une Tempete,  an adaptation of Shakespeare’s play The Tempest. He continued writing poetry and plays and retired from politics in 1993. He passed away in April of 2008 and was given a state funeral. All of Césaire’s writings are in French with a limited number having English translations.

Poetry

Césaire’s poetry has been described as a style between “artistic ‘modernism’ and black consciousness” (14). His writing can also be characterized as surreal. Césaire is associated with “negritude,” which signifies the black youth’s attempt to maintain a positive racial identity (3). Many of his works combine the two ideas of negritude and surrealism, which is an aesthetic movement that combines materials from an artist’s unconscious to create dream-like and fantastic aesthetic forms.

Drama

Césaire began to focus on drama with the use of the poem “Chiens.” In 1968 he published Une Tempete, a version of Shakespeare’s famous play The Tempest. He wanted to reflect black America in this play but the setting is the Caribbean. Davis argues that “The central paradigm of the colonizer/colonized relation, as it is constructed in The Tempest, embraces the totality of the black experience in the New World” (157). Many critics believe Cesaire’s version of The Tempest is about the relationship between the colonizer and the colonized and the struggle for absolute power. In the play, Prospero is the master of the two men, Caliban and Ariel. Prospero is the colonizer and both Caliban and Ariel attempt to gain their freedom from him. Caliban’s approach to freedom is through rebellion while Ariel tries “to appeal to his [Prospero's] moral conscience”(161). In the end, Caliban’s rebellion fails. In his final speech, Caliban charges Prospero with lying to him and holding him inferior. It is a classic example of the colonized rejecting the colonizer.  This is a quote taken from this final speech by Caliban:

Prospero, you are the master of illusion.
Lying is your trademark.
And you have lied so much to me
(lied about the world, lied about me)
that you have ended by imposing on me
an image of myself.
underdeveloped, you brand me, inferior,
That is the way you have forced me to see myself
I detest that image!  What’s more, it’s a lie!
But now I know you, you old cancer,
and I know myself as well. (162)

Works by Aimé Césaire

Collected Works

  • Césaire, Aimé. Euvres Completes. Vol.1 (Poesie), Vol. 2 (Theatre), Vol. 3 (Euvre historique et politique).  Fort-de-France: Editions Desormeaux, 1976.
  • Eshleman, Clayton and Smith, Annette, trans.  Aimé Césaire: The Collected Poetry. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983.
  • Maximin, Daniel and Carpentier, Gilles, eds.  La Poesie. Paris: Seuil, 1994.

Poetry

  • Césaire, Aimé. Cadastre.  Paris: Seuil, 1961.
  • —. Cahier díun retour au pays natal. Paris: Presence Africaine, 1956.
  • —. Corps perdu. Paris: Fragrance, 1950.
  • —. Ferrements. Paris: Seuil, 1960.
  • —. Les Armes miraculeuses. Paris: Gallimard, 1946.
  • —. Moi, laminaire . . . Paris: Seuil, 1982.
  • —. Soliel cou coupe. Paris: Editions K, 1948.

Drama

  • Césaire, Aimé. Et les chiens se taisaient.  Paris: Presence Africaine, 1956.
  • —. La Tragedie du roi Christophe. Paris: Presence Africaine, 1970.
  • —. Une Saison au Congo. Paris: Seuil, 1974.
  • —. Une Tempete. Paris: Seuil, 1969.

Works Cited

  • Césaire, Aimé. Lyric and Dramatic Poetry 1946-82. Clayton Eshleman and Annette Smith, trans. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1990.
  • Davis, Gregson. Césaire, Aimé. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

Author: Brooke Ritz, Spring 1999
Last edited: April 2012

Marshall, Paule

Biography

Marshall speaking in 2009

Image by Geoffrey Philip/CC licensed

In 1929, Paule Marshall was born Valenza Pauline Burke in Brooklyn, New York. She visited Barbados, her parents’ birthplace, for the first time at the age of nine. Marshall graduated from Brooklyn College in 1953 and graduate school at Hunter College in 1955. Early in her life, Marshall wrote a series of poems reflecting impressions of Barbados. Later, she turned to fiction. She has published short stories and articles in various magazines. She is best known for her novels and collections of short stories: Brown Girl, Brownstones (1959), Soul Clap Hands and Sing (1961), The Chosen Place, the Timeless People (1969), Praisesong for the Widow (1983), Reena and Other Short Stories (1983), and Daughters (1991). Marshall has lectured on black literature at universities and colleges such as Oxford University, Columbia University, Michigan State University, and Cornell University. She holds a distinguished chair in creative writing at New York University.

Works & Themes

Brown Girl, Brownstones book cover

Brown Girl, Brownstones, 1959

Brown Girl, Brownstones, Marshall’s first novel, tells the story of Selina Boyce, a girl growing up in a small black immigrant community. Selina is caught between her mother, who wants to conform to the ideals of her new home and make the American dream come true, and her father, who longs to go back to Barbados. The dominant themes in the novel – travel, migration, psychic fracture and striving for wholeness – are important structuring elements in her later works as well.

Soul Clap Hands and Sing, whose title is taken from Yeats’s “Sailing to Byzantium,” is comprised of four novellas, each taking place in different locations but depicting an aging man of African descent. Hardened by their compliance to the Western ideal to accumulate wealth, these men feel the need to develop meaningful human relationships and reach out to young women. Still caught up in their selfish motives, these men have to face their individual failures for having waited too long as well as the tragedy of loneliness. While, as Joyce Pettis points out, “women’s capacity for renewal is not elaborately articulated in this early work, the recognition is crucial, for it foreshadows their potential for exhaustive developments in later texts,” (15) such as The Chosen Place, the Timeless People, and Daughters. In these works, childbearing stands for the hope to heal the West Indian psyche of the fractures it has suffered from the traumatic experience of the colonial past and white supremacy. Conversely, the inability to conceive and the unwillingness to bear children will be a symbol of the inability to remedy those fractures.

In The Chosen Place, the Timeless People, Marshall brings these ideas together in the character of Merle Kimbona, daughter of one of the last sugar cane plantation owners and a servant. As an educated woman who lived in England but returned to her homeland, the fictitious island of Bourne located in the West Indies, Merle stands as a symbol for the troubled consciousness of the West Indian psyche. Having been seduced and abused by the perverted ideals of British white supremacy epitomized in the character of an upper class English lady, which ultimately leads to the end of her marriage with her African husband, Merle is left alone with her shame and conviction that she has lost her quest for her true identity. Thus it is a bitter and cynical Merle who meets the novel’s other main character, Jewish American anthropologist Saul Amron, coming to Bournehills to conduct a preliminary survey  that aims to better the life of the inhabitants in a way that takes their culture into account. The subdued romantic affair between Merle and Saul results in the cancellation of Saul’s project, the suicide of his wife, and Merle’s decision to move to Africa to find her husband and daughter. Simple oppositions, deployed in an ideologically burdened manner (e.g. the one between a problematic America and an unproblematic Africa or the one between “perverted,” futile female homosexuality and Merle’s ability to conceive a child with her African husband) point to a problematic idealism in the novel’s message. Nevertheless, Marshall’s extraordinary talent in depicting complex, intriguing characters undermines this idealism and creates a brilliant epic of the West Indian condition.

Reena and Other Stories is a collection of Marshall’s short fiction but it also contains the important essay “The Making of a Writer: From the Poets in the Kitchen.” In this piece, Marshall expresses her gratitude to her mother and other Barbadian women for having taught her the power of the word as an instrument of communication as well as survival.

Praisesong for the Widow is in many ways the closing point of Marshall’s explorations concerning the fractured West Indian psyche. The main characters, Avatara and Jerome Johnson evoke Silla and Deighton Boyce, the parents of Selina in Brown Girl, Brownstones. Similar to the couple in the earlier novel, Avatara and Jerome are caught up in pursuing capitalist comforts. Like Silla, Jerome dies without ever realizing that there may be a different way of survival. Unlike Silla, Avatara discovers a possibility to reconnect with the cultures of African descent when traveling to a Caribbean island. Here, the remains of African cultures are preserved in legends, dances, myths, and rituals. The novel suggests that, in Pettis’s words, “the divisiveness of Eurocentric cosmology can be countered through sensitivity to and acceptance of one’s cultural origins. The result is a self that is whole and moored” (16-17).

Daughters book cover

Daughters, 1991

In Daughters, Marshall is no longer invested in depicting such cultural and psychic reintegration although the familiar motives of travel and the symbolic significance of childbearing reappear. The heroine, Ursa McKenzie, daughter of an African American woman and a native politician of a fictitious Caribbean island, Triunion, lives in Brooklyn. The conflicts in her life are structured by the social implications of racism and gendered relations. The idealism of the earlier novels only appear in Ursa’s long planned thesis topic: the demonstration of egalitarian gender roles people of African descent under slavery. The Triunian legend of slave freedom fighters and lovers Congo Jane and Will Codjoe portrays an equal relationship unmatched by any of the couples in the novel. While Ursa chooses not to bear children and her friend Viney is willing to be a mother only through artificial insemination and chooses to stay celibate, these motives no longer suggest the denial to discover and accept one’s cultural heritage. Ursa is quite capable of leading a productive, if not utterly satisfactory, life in New York; the source of her main conflict is her relationship with her father, the politician who has lost his initial zeal to help his people and has become a puppet in the hands of imperialist businessmen.

The recurring themes of travel, psychic reintegration, and gender relations in a patriarchal, postcolonial, capitalist, and white supremacist world render Marshall’s oeuvre a consistent body of writings exploring the possibilities and stakes of claiming a culture of African origin. As Dorothy L. Denniston, “Marshall offers no easy solutions in her fiction, but she does suggest models for change and possibility. Because she develops those possibilities through the characterization of black women, she celebrates female agency and empowerment. Indeed, black women become representative of the larger black struggle for individual autonomy and communal wholeness” (88).

Awards

Rosenthal Award for the National Institute of Arts and Letters for Soul Clap Hands and Sing (1961)
Before Columbus Foundation American Book Award for Praisesong for the Widow (1984)
John Dos Pasos Award for Literature (1989)
MacArthur Fellowship (1992)

Publications

Marshall, Paule. Brown Girl, Brownstones. New York: Feminist Press at CUNY, 1959.
—. Soul Clap Hands and Sing. Washington, DC: Howard University Press, 1961.
—. The Chosen Place, the Timeless People. New York: Vintage, 1969.
—. Reena and Other Stories. New York: Feminist Press at CUNY, 1983.
—. Praisesong for the Widow. New York: Plume, 1983.
—. Daughters. New York: Plume, 1991.
—. The Fisher King. New York: Scribner, 2001.
—. Triangular Road. New York: Basica Civitas Books, 2009.

Bibliography

  • Bracks, Lean’tin. Writings on Black Women of the Diaspora: History, Language, and Identity. New York and London: Garland Publishing Inc., 1998.
  • Braxton, Joanne M. and Andrée Nicola McLaughlin. Wild Women in the Whirlwind: Afra-American Culture and The Contemporary Literary Renaissance. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1990.
  • Evans, Mari. Black Women Writers (1950-1980): A Critical Evaluation.Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1984.
  • Pettis, Joyce. Toward Wholeness in Paule Marshall’s Fiction. Charlottesville and London: University Press of Virginia, 1995.
  • Pryse, Marjorie, and Hortense J. Spillers. Conjuring: Black Women, Fiction, and Literary Tradition. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985.
  • Shaw, Harry B. Perspectives of Black Popular Culture. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green State University Press, 1990.
  • Willis, Susan. Specifying: Black Women Writing the American Experience. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 1987.

References

  • Christian, Barbara. Black Women Novelists: The Development Of A Tradition, 1892-1976. Contributions in Afro-American and African Studies 52 (1980). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
  • Hedgepeth, Chester. Twentieth-Century African-American Writers and Artists. Chicago: American Library Association, 1991
  • Kort, Carol. A to Z of American Women Writers. Facts on File Library of American History. New York: Facts on File, 2000.
  • Rush, Theressa Gunnels, Carol Fairbanks, and Esther Spring Arata. Black American Writers Past And Present: A Biographical And BibliographicalDictionary. Metuchen: Scarecrow Press, 1975.

Interviews

  • Dance, Daryl Cumber, “An Interview with Paule Marshall.” The Southern Review 28 (Winter 1992).
  • Pettis, Joyce, “A MELUS Interview: Paule Marshall.” MELUS 17 (Winter 1991/2).

Related Sites

Page on Paule Marshall by Dorothy Denniston
http://www.hmco.com/college/english/heath/syllabuild/iguide/marshall.html 

Author: Eszter Timar, Spring 2000
Last edited: July 2012

Petaia, Sapa’u Ruperake

Biography

Born on April 11, 1951, Sapa’u Ruperake Petaia is a published poet. He served as the Director of the Ministry of the Post and Telecommunications for the island nation of Samoa. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration and Economic Geography from the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji, in 1980. Sapa’u also has a Master’s in Public Administration from Trinity University (USA), which he earned through their long-distance learning program. After completing his undergraduate degree at Samoa College, Petaia returned to Western Samoa where he worked in the Public Service Commission, restarting a career that began in 1973. In 1987 he was appointed Deputy Secretary of the Commission. In 1989 he was appointed the Director of the then Post Office Department, and in 2000 he was delegated and appointed to his present position.

Brief History of Samoa

Map of Samoa by CloudSurfer/CC Licensed

Map of Samoa by CloudSurfer/CC Licensed

The Dutch first visited Western Samoa in 1722. However, people of Polynesian descent primarily inhabit the island to this day. The Second Samoan Civil War resulted in the U.S. annexation of eastern Samoa (still an American territory and called American Samoa) and German control of the western islands in 1899. New Zealand occupied the German islands in 1914 during World War I, and subsequently administered them as a League of Nations mandate and a UN Trust Territory. They gained independence as Western Samoa in 1962. Executive power rests in a chief of state, chosen by the legislative assembly from among the royal families. The Samoan clan chiefs are responsible for choosing the majority of the members in the legislature. Chief Susuga Malietoa Tanumafili II was head of state from 1962 to his death in 2007. In 1997, the country dropped “Western” from its official name. The Flag of Samoa shows three quarters red, with the upper left quadrant blue. The interior of this area contains five white stars depicting the Southern Cross.

Major Themes in Petaia’s Writing

Petaia’s poetry criticizes the legacy of British influence on different facets of Samoan life. In “Kidnapped” he opposes the institution of an Anglicized educational system. Alluding to his academic training as a metaphorical “kidnapping,” he implies that his teachers (white colonialists) had essentially stolen him from his mother (representing the native culture or “patria”). Markedly politicized and distinctly accusatory in tone, this poem voices the perspective of the colonized and rejects the ideologies Western imperialism. Other themes throughout his work include elements of nature and historical facts.

Q & A with S. Ruperake Petaia

Q: So, where to from here?

“It is my serious intention to leave the public service at the end of my current contract. However, the feeling now is, it’s time to move on to my other areas of interests like working in the plantation, being involved directly with village matters as a matai [head of the family] and looking after the aiga and church commitments. I want the younger fellas and the more versatile, energetic qualified people to take over in the best interest of the country’s development.”

Q: I wasn’t sure whether I was going to ask this question. What about politics?

“Well, maybe, but I don’t feel the urge to take up politics. Hey, but who knows!”

Q: From when does your first memory of rebellious behavior or thinking come?

“Hmm . . . well, when I was six years old, I used the crayons from art class to draw on my lunchbox.”

Q: What was the subject of the first poem you wrote, and how old were you then?

“I was fourteen. I think it was some sort of love poem, but I don’t really remember, and it was certainly never published!”

Q: Why did you choose to examine the institution of education in ‘kidnapped’ as opposed to governmental or religious influences?

“In the Pacific Islands, education is where the Western influence is most felt.”

Q: What is your preferred mode of writing for publication (i.e. poetry, prose, journalism, etc.)?

“Poetry is my preferred medium . . . it allows me to be succinct.”

Q: As a follow-up question, do you intend to publish anything in the near future?

“Yes, I do, but I won’t say what or when!” [From telephone interview, conducted by David Klivans on 11/07/01]

Works by S. R. Petaia

  • Petaia, Sapa’u Ruperake. Blue Rain: Poems by Ruperake Petaia of Western Samoa. Suva: Institute of Pacific Studies, 1991.

Works Cited

  • Ashcroft, Bill. Post-colonial Transformation. London: Routledge, 2001.
  • Thieme, John (ed.) The Arnold Anthology of Post-colonial Literatures in English. London: Arnold, 1996.

Related Links

Pacific Island Books
http://www.pacificislandbooks.com
Western Samoa Geography
http://www.theodora.com/wfb/western_samoa_geography.html

Author: David M. Klivans, Fall 2001
Last edited: June 2012

Neruda, Pablo

Sonnet XVII (100 Love Sonnets, 1960)

I don’t love you as if you were the salt-rose, topaz
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as certain dark things are loved,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom and carries
hidden within itself the light of those flowers,
and thanks to your love, darkly in my body
lives the dense fragrance that rises from the earth.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you simply, without problems or pride:
I love you in this way because I don’t know any other way of loving

but this, in which there is no I or you,
so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand,
so intimate that when I fall asleep it is your eyes that close.

Biography

Photo of Neruda

Image by Cantus / CC Licensed

Pablo Neruda was born Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto in Parral, Chile on July 12, 1904. His mother died just weeks later, and his father discouraged his affinity for poetry, which he had displayed since the age of ten. His family’s disapproval drove the young Basoalto to write under the pseudonym of Pablo Neruda, which he officially adopted in 1946. Neruda was married three times– Chile did not officially recognize his second marriage. Although his published poetry was widely respected by the time he reached age twenty, Neruda found it necessary to follow his budding political career to Asia in order to make a living. In Europe in the 1930s he became involved in Communism, which would influence his later political actions as well as much of his poetry. In 1946 he successfully campaigned in Chile for the regime of Gabriel Gonzalez Videla, but he soon publicly expressed displeasure with Videla’s presidency and was forced to flee his homeland for several years. Neruda was very active in the Communist party and briefly ran for president against Allende. His poetry was also deeply inflected with his political perspective. Neruda was able to return to Chile in 1952, finally both wealthy and widely respected. In 1971 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He died of cancer at age 69 on September 23, 1973. By that time he was recognized as a national hero and the greatest Latin American poet of the twentieth century.

Literary Influences

As a boy Neruda attended Temuco Boys’ School; the principal of the Girls’ School was Gabriela Mistral.  Mistral was a well-respected poet, and later became a Nobel Laureate herself, and she encouraged a young Neruda to pursue his fascination with poetry. In 1933, Neruda met Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Garcia Lorca not only befriended Neruda and introduced him to influential Communists, he also publicly supported Neruda’s poetry. Neruda was interested in both national and international aspects of literature.  He translated foreign works by many older authors including William Blake and William Shakespeare, but he also closely read Spanish language poets like Garcia Lorca, Jorge Luis Borges, and Miguel de Cervantes. Throughout his career, though, Neruda credited Walt Whitman with his deepest inspiration; he once declared that “I, a poet who writes in Spanish, learned more from Walt Whitman than from Cervantes.” A carpenter once helped hang a picture of Walt Whitman in Neruda’s home; when he asked if this was a picture of the poet’s grandfather, Neruda replied that it was indeed (Nolan 4).

Themes

During his lifetime, Neruda seemed to experience the spectrum of emotional highs and lows very vividly, and his poetry clearly reflected this experience. In times of inspiration he was capable of unparalleled romanticism. His passionate love affairs often provided him with a living muse; his third wife brought him such inspiration from their marriage until his death. Despite his illness, Neruda was extremely happy during his final years in Chile, and his love for his country served as an equally powerful contributor to his poetry.  Neruda’s capacity for joy and reverence toward life is especially evident in works such as Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair (1924) and 100 Love Sonnets (1960).

Even in times of great happiness, however, Neruda tended to slip dark imagery into his poetry. Indeed, read in a different light, even his love poems can be seen as a subtle but powerful cry against life’s tragedies. Neruda’s periods of happiness were interspersed with times of extreme depression, which often resurfaced during his travels in Europe and Asia. Neruda was often forced by politics or financial troubles to abandon his friends, his country, and even his wives; in such times the passion he had reserved for these loves often turned inward and resulted in a gnawing loneliness. The dark undertones in Neruda’s daily life also surfaced in his work. Just as he often published collections of love poems in times of joy, he sometimes composed “material” poems to exercise his affinity for the macabre. Residence on Earth (1935) is one example of a collection detailing the sinister energy Neruda was able to derive from everyday objects.

The ups and downs in Neruda’s personal life led him to seek out and attempt to describe the essence of life.  It was in this quest for understanding and oneness that he most closely resembled, and sometimes mimicked, Whitman. Like much of Whitman’s own work, many of Neruda’s poems, such as those found in his General Study (1950), were an attempt to discover and explain truths across separate themes. Such works tended to combine nature with nation, with history, and with freedom. Paradoxically, Neruda was also able to capture the intrinsic value inherent in plants, animals, and simple objects without unduly coloring the odes with emotion. His Elementary Odes (1954) also followed Whitman’s lead, and were heralded for their insightful brand of simplicity. Neruda’s greatest literary success was his ability to approach the grandiose and the minute, the tragic and the joyous,with equal patience and reverence.

List of Works

  • Neruda, Pablo. Antologia Esencial (Ed. Hernan Loyola; 1971)
  • —. Antologia General (1970)
  • —. Antologia Poetica (Ed. Pablo Luis Avila; 1962)
  • —. Arte de Pajaros (1966)
  • —. Aun (1959)
  • —. Bestiario (1958)
  • —. Cancion de Gesta (1960)
  • —. Canto General (1950)
  • —. Cantos Ceremoniales (1961)
  • —. Cien Sonetos de Amor (1960)
  • —. Crepusculario (1923)
  • —. Dulce Patria (1951)
  • —. Extravagario (1958)
  • —. Fin de Mundo (1969)
  • —. Geografia Infructuosa (1972)
  • —. Hondero Entusiasta (1932)
  • —. Incitacion al Nixoncidio y Alabanza de la Revolucion Chilena
  • —. La Barcarola (1967)
  • —. La Espada Encendida (1970)
  • —. La Rosa Separada (1972)
  • —. Las Manos del Dia (1968)
  • —. Las Piedras de Chile (1961)
  • —. Las Uvas y el Viento (1954)
  • —. Los Versos del Capitan (1954)
  • —. Memorial de Isla Negra (1964)
  • —. Navegaciones y Regresos (1959)
  • —. Nuevas Odas Elementales (1956)
  • —. Obra Poetica de Pablo Neruda (1948)
  • —. Obras Completas (1962)
  • —. Obras Completas (1968)
  • —. Odas Elementales (1954)
  • —. Plenos Poderes (1962)
  • —. Poesia Politica (1953)
  • —. Poesias (1965)
  • —. Residencia en la Tierra (1935)
  • —. Tentativa del Hombre Infinitivo (1926)
  • —. Todo el Amor (1953)
  • —. Viente Poemas de Amor y Una Cancion Desesperada (1924)

Posthumous

  • Neruda, Pablo. Antologia Poetica (1981)
  • —. Elegia (1974)
  • —. El Mar y las Campanas (1973)
  • —. Jardin del Invierno (1973)
  • —. Libro de las Preguntas (1974)
  • —. Pablo Neruda (Ed. Carlos Rafael Duverran; 1977)
  • —. 2000 (1974)

Works Cited

  • Nolan, James. Poet-Chief: The Native American Poetics of Walt Whitman and Pablo Neruda. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico, 1994.

Selected Bibliography

  • Agosin, Marjorie. Pablo Neruda. Translated by Lorraine Ross. Boston: Twayne, 1986.
  • Nolan, James. Poet-Chief: The Native American Poetics of Walt Whitman and Pablo Neruda. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico, 1994.
  • Perriam, Christopher. The Late Poetry of Pablo Neruda. Oxford: Dolphin Book Co., 1989.
  • Poirot, Luis. Pablo Neruda: Absence and Presence. Translated by Alastair Reed. New York: Norton, 1990.
  • Santi, Enrico Mario. Pablo Neruda, the Poetics of Prophecy. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, 1982.
  • Teitelboim, Volodia. Neruda: An Intimate Biography. Translated by Beverly J. DeLong-Tonelli. Austin, TX: University of Texas, 1992.
  • Woodbridge, Hensley C. and David S. Zubatsky. Pablo Neruda: An Annotated Bibliography of Biographical and Critical Studies. New York: Garland, 1988.

Related Links

Further information on Chile
http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/cltoc.html

Introduction to Marxism
http://www.anu.edu.au/polsci/marx/marx.htm

Il Postino site
http://www.lnstar.com/literature/postino/index.html

Nobel Prize
http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1971/neruda-bio.html

The Poetry Foundation
http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/pablo-neruda

Author: Jesse Zitrin, Spring 1999

Last edited: June 2012