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The Plural of UsPoetry and Community in Auden and Others$
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Bonnie Costello

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780691172811

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691172811.001.0001

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Tribes and Ambiguities

Tribes and Ambiguities

(p.94) 5 Tribes and Ambiguities
The Plural of Us

Bonnie Costello

Princeton University Press

This chapter considers the role of poetry in formation and support of group identity. Poetry has often supported group identity, resisting prejudice but making calls of solidarity, developing “the language of the tribe” and emphasizing difference to maintain cultural distinctness. However, it has also worked against oppositional models of identity, not only by invoking universals but also by creating ambiguity across boundaries. “We” can be formed not only in shifting relations of “you” and “I,” but also in discovered commonalities across groups. Flexible or unassigned pronouns provide one source of that ambiguity; they allow us to enter into different subjectivities, recognize their relativity, and locate a permeable “we” beyond or between the divides.

Keywords:   group identity, poetry, poems, ambiguity

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