Abstract

Abstract:

This essay contributes to recent scholarly efforts to probe the intersection of poetry and postcoloniality by applying Empsonian methods of ambiguous reading to Anglophone works from Northern Ireland, India, and the Caribbean. Through close readings of poems by Seamus Heaney, Derek Walcott, Kamau Brathwaite, Louise Bennett, and Nissim Ezekiel, it argues that attention to ambiguity can generate heightened awareness of what Jahan Ramazani has called the "intercultural" dimensions of postcolonial poetry, and of postcolonial literature and experience more generally. It further argues that Anglophone texts, by deploying both vernacular and standard English protocols simultaneously, demand an expansion of the existing critical repertoire in poetry studies, and it seeks to contribute to this expansion by identifying and taxonomizing novel "types of ambiguity" beyond those laid out by William Empson's pioneering Seven Types of Ambiguity, whose emphasis on the British literary tradition could not anticipate the subsequent and ongoing global diversification of the English language.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1542-4286
Print ISSN
0093-3139
Pages
pp. 761-794
Launched on MUSE
2019-10-15
Open Access
No
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