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In The Hybrid Muse, Jahan Ramazani argues that postcolonial poets have also dramatically expanded the atlas of literature in English, infusing modern and contemporary poetry with indigenous metaphors and creoles. A rich and vibrant poetry, he contends, has issued from the hybridization of the English muse with the long resident muses of Africa, India, and the Caribbean. Starting with the complex case of Ireland, Ramazani closely analyzes the work of leading postcolonial poets and explores key questions about the relationship between poetry and postcolonialism. As inheritors of both imperial and native cultures, poets such as W. B. Yeats, Derek Walcott, Louise Bennett, A. K. Ramanujan, and Okot p'Bitek invent compelling new forms to articulate the tensions and ambiguities of their cultural in-betweeness. They forge hybrid figures, vocabularies, and genres that embody the postcolonial condition.
Engaging an array of critical topics, from the aesthetics of irony and metaphor to the politics of nationalism and anthropology, Ramazani reconceptualizes issues central to our understanding of both postcolonial literatures and twentieth-century poetry. The first book of its kind, The Hybrid Muse will help internationalize the study of poetry, and in turn, strengthen the place of poetry in postcolonial studies.
I have crossed an oceanNeither poetry conceived as the lyric expression of personal feeling nor as the postmodern negation of commodified language is sufficient to help us enter into the work of Louise Bennett, Okot p'Bitek, or A. K. Ramanujan, whose poetry mediates between oral practices and imported literary forms; reclaims indigenous histories, landscapes, and traditions; and constitutes "imagined communities" in the wake of their threatened colonial destruction.
I have lost my tongue
from the root of the old one
a new one has sprung
Excerpted from The Hybrid Muse: Postcolonial Poetry in English by Jahan Ramazani Copyright © 2001 by Jahan Ramazani. Excerpted by permission.
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