Citation Robinson G (2017) Postcolonial Poetry of Great Britain. In: Ramazani J (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Postcolonial Poetry. Cambridge Companions to Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 110-123. http://www.cambridge.org/gb/academic/subjects/literature/european-and-world-literature-general-interest/cambridge-companion-postcolonial-poetry?format=PB
Abstract This chapter develops a way to examine twentieth-century and contemporary poetry in terms of Great Britain’s postcoloniality. Beginning with Stuart Hall’s call to understand the ramifications of the British Empire within its center’s “home”, I trace a chronology of counter-discourses of identification and disidentification that move from the imperial concept of “Britisher” to an ambivalently devolved poetry of Britishness. The work of Claude McKay, Una Marson, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Jackie Kay, Imtiaz Dharker, Patience Agbabi and their contemporaries offers a remapping of poetry, migration and ethnicity in Britain, articulating how poetic vocabularies can unravel notions of standardising English, and how in-placeness can be performed within landscapes unevenly naturalized through centuries of settlement. What emerges in this chapter is a poetics of contradictory affinity, a poetry that disavows shared identity and refuses recognition just as often as it demands them.
Keywords British identities; poetry of place; postcolonial poetics; black Britishness; varieties of English; national poetics