Living Space Imtiaz Dharker Imtiaz Dharker 1954 - Imtiaz Dharker is a Pakistan-born British poet, artist and documentary filmmaker. She has won the Queens Gold Medal for her English poetry. Her poetry often deals with themes of identity, the role of women in contemporary society and the search for meaning. She
Describes a ramshackle living space. Dharker has explained it describes the slums of Mumbai, where people migrate from all over India in the hope of a better life. The slum areas are living spaces created out of all kinds of found materials: corrugated sheets, wooden beams and tarpaulin. In this poem she celebrates the existence of these living spaces as a miracle. The lines of the buildings are slanting and unstable,
balancing precariously between dangerous and 'miraculous'. The poem is like a snapshot or photograph of a moment in time. There are just not enough 1 long thin stanza with 22 short lines. Straight lines. That Each line varies in length. Is the problem. The longest, is considerably longer
Nothing is flat than the others. Or parallel. Beams Balance crookedly on supports Representing the fact the whole Thrust off the vertical. structure is leaning over. Nails clutch at open seams. The poem appears as precarious as The whole structure leans dangerously
the physical structures it describes. Towards the miraculous. The lines of different lengths seem to Into this rough frame, Someone has squeezed jut out into the page like some of the A living space crooked beams the poet presents. And even dared to place Enjambment throughout, with lines
These eggs in a wire basket, spilling over into one another. Fragile curves of white This reflects the way the structures Hung out over the dark edge Of a slanted universe, lean over and on top of each other. Gathering the light Describes outside. Into themselves,
A more positive idea of inside the structure As if they were The bright, thin walls of faith. and having faith. There are just not enough Straight lines. That Is the problem. Straight to the point but the subject is unclear.
Nothing is flat Or parallel. Beams Balance crookedly on supports Thrust off the vertical. Alliteration supports the personified beams. Adverb indicates the instability of the dwellings. Personification here suggests the supports are deliberately making the situation dangerous.
Nails clutch at open seams. The personified nails are not able to do their job. They are not actually joining anything together. Structures are exposed. Also a collective noun for a group of eggs. Dharker links the nails and the eggs showing how each of them represent faith.
The whole structure leans dangerously Towards the miraculous. Juxtaposition of these 2 words makes us fearful while in awe. It seems to be a miracle that the structure stays intact at all. Into this rough frame, Someone has squeezed A living space Sibilance suggests how easy this process actually was.
And even dared to place These eggs in a wire basket, Shows the speaker has a sense of wonder at the way people are living here. A symbol of the people's boldness. The people are as fragile as the eggs. Fragile curves of white Hung out over the dark edge Of a slanted universe,
Like the buildings, the eggs are in a position of danger. Where the buildings threaten to collapse, the eggs are hanging out into the darkness where they could easily fall and smash. Things are often not what we expect. Gathering the light Into themselves, The people have faith. To many, this world, in the slums, is better than the one they left.
As if they were The bright, thin walls of faith. Metaphor contrasts bright eggs with the 'dark edge/ of a slanted universe.' Standing out as white, pure and whole against a broken dark world. Implies something positive, but fragile. Is the poet saying that faith, like the shell of an egg, is easy to break?
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