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LIMBO by EDWARD KAMAU BRATHWAITE
Biographical / Background Information
Edward Kamau Brathwaite was born in 1930 at Bridgetown, Barbados. He studied history at
Cambridge University, and worked for seven years in Ghana, an experience which made him
strongly aware of his African roots. Brathwaite returned to the West Indies in 1962. He combines
his work as a poet with his work as a teacher and academic.…read more

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Between Two Cultures
The slaves are literally moving between two cultures ­ they are leaving their African world behind,
and moving to a Westernised life of slavery. Unlike in many of the other poems in the anthology,
this change has been forced on them and the experience is entirely negative.…read more

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NOTHING'S CHANGED by TATAMKHULU AFRICA
Some Biographical / Background Information
In 1961 South Africa instituted a system of `Apartheid' (or `separateness') which required Whites,
Blacks, Coloureds and Indians to all exist segregated from each other (and relegated the large black
population of South Africa to lives of almostinescapable poverty as second, or even thirdclass
citizens). Resistance to the Apartheid regime, led by Nelson Mandela's ANC party, was ruthlessly
suppressed, and many of its opponents were persecuted, exiled, imprisoned or murdered.…read more

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If one envisions the voice of the poem as Tatamkhulu Africa's own, then, taking his background into
account, one becomes aware that he is indeed able to move between the different cultures of south
Africa (represented by the `whitesonly inn' and the `working man's café and observe their
differences and inequalities.
Some Stylistic Features
It is interesting to consider if the speaker of the poem is Tatamkhulu Africa himself or is envisioned
as a black South African.…read more

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ISLAND MAN by GRACE NICHOLS
Biographical Information
Grace Nichols was Born in British Guyana, but eventually settled in England in 1977. She is
married to John Agard, and also wrote `Hurricane Hits England' in Cluster B of the Anthology.
Caught between Two Cultures
The Caribbean culture which the Island Man has left behind, and of which he dreams, is attractively
portrayed.…read more

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A Religious Interpretation
`Blessing' can also be interpreted symbolically as a description of spiritual inspiration. Water is a
universal symbol of `life', and is used symbolically in many different religions. Initially Dharker
describes the state of spiritual emptiness and deadness ("The skin cracks like a pod"). Spiritual
inspiration ("the blessing") then arrives suddenly and unexpectedly: "a sudden rush of fortune". The
response is an ecstatic one: "a roar of tongues ... frantic hands ... naked children screaming in the
liquid sun.…read more

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TWO SCAVENGERS IN A TRUCK, TWO BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE IN A MERCEDES
By LAWRENCE FERLINGHETTI
Biographical / Background Information
The poem is a critique of `the American Dream', which is the belief that those who live in the USA,
or immigrate there, have the freedom and opportunity to make money and become rich as a
Capitalist Democracy, the USA does not have rigid class systems or oppressive regimes that
prevent people from fulfilling themselves.…read more

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NIGHT OF THE SCORPION
By NISSIM EZEKIEL
Biographical / Background Information
Nissim Ezekiel lived in Mumbai (Bombay), India, and is Jewish. His father was a botany professor
and his mother a headmistress so the experience described in the poem is probably not his own.
Experience of Another Culture
The Indian community in the poem is poor and primitive, with quite a basic standard of living: they
are described as `peasants', use `candles' and `lanterns', and their houses have `mud baked walls'.…read more

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The repetition of "May" and "they said" is perhaps reminiscent of their prayers and chants.
The title, `Night of the Scorpion', is reminiscent of a horror movie: this might suggest the fear that
this memory evokes or perhaps how the peasants exaggerate the evil powers of the scorpion.…read more

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