2004 Student Research Conference:
17th Annual Student Research Conference

Language & Literature

"The Creature of Kumaon": The Embodiment of Agha Shahid Ali's Poetic Inspiration
Cassandra J. Runge
Dr. Hena Ahmad, Faculty Mentor

Agha Shahid Ali, an American poet with roots in India, captures the sense of estrangement and loss of a man away from home in his collection of poetry, The Half-Inch Himalayas (1987). He considers a part of his own writing process in a poem from the collection, “The Tiger at 4:00 A.M. The “tiger” becomes a symbol of Ali’s suppressed emotion, and as such, takes the form of poetic inspiration. At times representing memories and emotions of home, the tiger initially endangers the stability of Ali’s daily American life, threatening to derail his productivity by flooding his mind with past images. Yet engulfed by acute emotions, Ali eventually accepts these memories and feelings as the stimulus of elegant writing. Thus, “The Tiger at 4:00 A.M.” serves as a model for understanding Ali’s literary progression, describing how he integrates recurring glimpses of his history into the poetry of his current life.

Keywords: Agha Shahid Ali, poetry, India, tiger, loss, memories, writing process, inspiration

Topic(s):English

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 45-4
Location: VH 1304
Time: 4:30

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