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This Room
Imtiaz Dharker
`The line is Imtiaz Dharker's sole weapon in a zone of
assault which stretches over the Indian subcontinent's
bloody history, the shifting dynamics of personal
relationships and the torment of an individual caught
between two cultures, divergent world-views'
­ The Times of India…read more

Slide 2

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Learning Intentions
Key teaching points Key Terms
· To read the poem · Personification
· To make · Metaphor
comparisons with · Liberation
`Love After Love' · Surrealism…read more

Slide 3

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Imtiaz Dharker's cultural experience spans three countries. Born
in Pakistan in 1954 (seven years after the division of India and
Pakistan), she grew up in Glasgow and now lives in India. It is
from this life of transitions that she draws her themes:
childhood, exile, journeying, home and religious strife. In
Purdah (1989), she is a traveller between cultures, while in
Postcards from God she imagines an anguished god surveying a
world stricken by fundamentalism.
Alan Ross in London Magazine admired her `strong, concerned,
economical poetry, in which political activity, homesickness,
urban violence, religious anomalies, are raised' ­ in tightly
wrought "free verse" remarkable for its supple rhythmical
The poet said:
`The image of purdah for me was on the dangerous edge of
being almost seductive: the hidden body, the highlighted eyes,
the suggestion of forbidden places. But of course it is also one of
the instruments of power used to bring women to heel in the
name of religion.…read more

Slide 4

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God has been hijacked by power-brokers to justify all kinds of acts
of violence. The speaker in the first Postcards from God poem is a
somewhat bewildered god.
This god looks out at a fractured landscape: Bombay, where I live,
is a city of grandiose dreams and structures held together with
sellotape and string (`Living Space'). In the face of impending
collapse, the eggs in the wire basket seemed impossibly optimistic.
Sectarian violence (such as Bombay has known) suddenly forces
people who had not thought of themselves as religious to take a
stand, define themselves in terms of the religion they were born
into, confine themselves within smaller borderlines. There is a
moment when the neighbours' children become the sinister enemy,
and the name of god takes on a dangerous sound.
I enjoy the benefits of being an outcast in most societies I know. I
don't want to have to define myself in terms of location or religion.
In a world that seems to be splitting itself into narrower national
and religious groups, sects, castes, subcastes, we can go on
excluding others until we come down to a minority of one'. Imtiaz
Dharker…read more

Slide 5

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Now Read the Poem
· Look carefully at the first two stanzas
· What is happening here?
· These events are not the result of some natural
phenomenon like an earthquake or hurricane
· What is happening to the room is a metaphor
to suggest the poet's feelings
· In pairs: what SORT of feelings are being
suggested here?
· What about the contradiction: destructive force
brings about positive feelings. How does this
connect with Hurricane Hits England?…read more

Slide 6

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Now Look at Stanzas Three
and Four
· You have three minutes before you
report back, in pairs, on:
· What is happening
· How you can tell what the speaker's
feelings are.…read more

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