I was mired in attachment
So I mastered new rungs of air
Seamus Heaney, 'The First Flight'
This book introduces readers to a body of poetry whose unique relation to language and history gives it a dual role in contemporary societies. On the one hand, this poetry bears witness to the residual force of colonial histories; on the other, it shows how that force may be turned to new forms of linguistic and cultural empowerment. Many books with 'postcolonial' in their titles ignore or marginalize the genre of poetry. Others address it within the boundaries of a single nation or region. Their insights leave room for another kind of project, which establishes connections between contemporary poetry and colonial history, and provides comparisons between the literary decolonization of societies linked by a colonial language, while remaining alert to the features that distinguish one society and poet from another. In addressing these aims, I have tried to contextualize poetry in terms of historical developments, supplement broad outline with salient detail, and balance exposition with analysis, while grounding ideas and concepts in their capacity to clarify the experience of reading poetry.
The Weld covered by this book is held together by three factors. The Wrst is the global community constituted by English. The second is the set of creative possibilities wrested by poets from a combination of assimilation and resistance to English as a language and a culture. The third is a pattern of development shared between regions with a history of twentieth-century decolonization. Poets writing before and after the end of colonial rule tackled challenges and accessed opportunities that created local traditions; these went through a series of transformations, from imitation and dependency to varying degrees