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These are the Times We Live in
Transcript of These are the Times We Live in
by Imtiaz Dharker
Dharker was born in 1954, she is a Pakistan-born British poet, artist, and documentary filmmaker. She currently has 5 published books of poetry. At the time she wrote this poem, people of other races and cultures, were looked at with suspicion and distrust, especially if you had a name that was thought of as "unusual".
She is in some sort of immigration office or international place where she is traveling to or from, she hands the man her passport and he seems very skeptical of her. She could be hurt by the distrust but she realizes that his reaction is that of everyone else’s.
The man is inspecting her passport and scanning over it, looking at her “weird” name, trying to figure her out from a few pieces of paper. She begins to poke fun at their efforts to try and change people like her, people with different cultures and nationalities. But at the end, she reveals the hurt that is left behind, because after all the poking and changing, part of her feels missing and not like herself anymore.
Speaker of the Poem
Because this poem was written from an actual experience the poet had, I believe the speaker is her addressing someone who would be in the same situation as her.
At first the author is almost accepting of the suspicion towards her, but it shifts for a short bit to her poking fun and laughing at the people judging and trying to change her. Then finally the tone shift to heavy and saddening.
“The pieces are there/But they missed out your heart.”
This is really where you notice the shift in tone, you can almost feel the hurt that the poet feels.
“You shrink to the size/of the book in his hand.”
This makes you realize how small other peoples’ actions make her feel.
More Poetic Devices
I think the idea of the passport is symbolic in this poem, the passport carries the parts of her that make her someone to be looked at with distrust. Her picture and her name are emphasized.
Even More Poetic Devices
“because you don't match your photograph./Even that is coming apart.”
This quote shows a bit of imagery and feeling, you can imagine a literal photograph falling apart and relate that to her emotional state. It also makes you feel something, you can feel how torn apart inside this has made her.
I actually enjoyed studying this poem, because as much as people disagree it is so relevant to the world right now. Discrimination, unfortunately, is still all around us. This poem conveys a bit of the way it affects people emotionally.