Nation, Race and Language: “Wherever I hang my knickers – that’s my home.”

Today we explored a range of immigrant writers who either embraced the English Language totally (such as Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka), or those who enjoyed flaunting the creative powers of their own appropriation of English (such as Louise Bennett and Grace Nichols), finally to those such as M.Nourbese Philip who seemed to lament the loss of language and felt dispossessed by the whole process of colonisation.

Of all the poets looked at, it was the last who seemed to present us with the most dramatic and emotional content. Marlene Nourbese Philip seemed to present a lament for the loss of human dignity through exploitation. This is a savagely powerful poem that places the lyrical poetic voice in the context of a range of other “languages” that demonstrate how and why the Logic of Language can be an imprisoning logic. It is worth listening again to Marlene reading her poem with such passion “Discourse on the Logic of Language”:


is my mother tongue/

A mother tongue is not

not a foreign lan lan lang




-a foreign anguish. (Click on image below to hear the whole poem)


Blog Topics for Week 10

  • Start a poem with the lines “English is my mother tongue” and explore the meaning of this line in relation to your own experience of language in your life.
  • Does the experience of any of the authors looked at today (Louise Bennet, Grace Nichols, Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe and M.Nourbese Philip) connect with your the experience of language users amongst your family and friends?
  • Write a short paragraph in prose or verse ending with the line “Wherever I hang my knickers – that’s my home”.
  • Create a mini digital kit from which your readers can find useful resources on any two of the authors studied today.
  • Remember you can create your own topic that draws inspiration from anything discussed or presented this week and that might also connect with experiences in your own life.
  • Enjoy!

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