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This essay asks why, historically, the politics of postcolonial theory require of poetry that it be anchored in the concrete material conditions of a specific population. What are the parameters of analysis that have been established by overtly committed works? What obligations to contextualize does a poem like Aimé Césaire's Cahier d'un retour au pays natal impose? Conversely, what pressures does the Cahier place on content-oriented postcolonial approaches? Through a careful examination of the Cahier and the specific political valence it would have acquired when written, I seek to understand poetry's relationship to postcolonial theory as it has developed over time.