Punning in Punglish, sounding 'poreign': Daljit Nagra and the politics of language
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This essay explores Daljit Nagra’s poetry (Look We Have Coming To Dover! (2007), and Tippoo Sultan’s Incredible White-Man-Eating Tiger-Toy Machine!!! (2011)) in the context of contemporary British language politics. It argues that Nagra’s approach to language – combining heteroglot, multivoiced experimentalism with an etymological attention to the historical constructedness of language – offers a riposte to monolingual ideologies, which also resituates English as a product and residue of colonial history. While Nagra’s poems sometimes come close to regarding the histories enfolded within English as a linguistic and poetic impasse, they continue to invest in the notion of resistance and individual agency in language; and specifically, they revel in poetic dramatization of the accommodations and convivialities of everyday multilingual language practice.
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