History, Location, and the Poetic Consciousness in Kaiser Haq’s Poetry
Abstract: South Asian poetry in English comprises an amalgamation of Western literary traditions and an ambiguity regarding the poet’s location that subsequently stirs up questions regarding identity. Both these features can be attributed to the relationship between the poet and the use of English language as opposed to his/her mother tongue. The syncretism and hybridity that occurs as a result of cultural clashes and convergences has become increasingly apparent in identity formation in today’s diasporic world. However, for those South Asian poets writing in English and borrowing from Western traditions, who can neither be identified as migrants or exiles, anxieties of identity and belonging have been a marked feature of their work. Most of these South Asian poets, despite displaying a strong sense of belonging to their national cultures, also exhibit a global heterogeneity in their identity due to the multiple affiliations that define their cultural consciousness. This paper attempts to explore the poetry of one of the major South Asian poets, Kaiser Haq, who has not only established himself as the leading Bangladeshi poet writing in English but has also carved a niche for himself as a recognized international poet. Like most other poets writing in English from the Indian subcontinent, Haq carries the burden of a colonial inheritance and his work has been and is subject to innumerable labels such as Commonwealth literature, postcolonial poetry, sub-continental poetry, etc. He defends his use of English as the medium of his poetry as a unifying force in fusing the disparate parts of his Bengali psyche. However, in his work, when placed within the context of national identification, there seems to be a refusal to limit “location” within national boundaries and yet there is a continual return to Bangladesh which remains an underlying presence in his poetry. This study focuses on how the perceptions of history and location have impacted and contributed to the identity and creative consciousness that articulates Kaiser Haq’s poetry.
Keywords: history, location, individual and collective identity, hybridity, consciousness
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Published in 2018