They’ll Say, ‘She Must Be from Another Country’

Author

Dharker, Imtiaz

Genre

Poetry

Overview

Imtiaz Dharker is one of the most important Indian poets currently writing in English. A recurring theme in her poetry is the danger of exclusion, as she noted in a recent interview: "In a world that seems to be splitting itself into narrower national and religious groups, sects, castes, subcastes, we can go on excluding others until we come down to a minority of one." The title of this poem--which is also the refrain--reminds us how quickly we often dismiss those whom we categorize as "other." The narrator wonders if there is "another country" for such outsiders, though notices that "from where we are it doesn't look like a country, it's more like the cracks that grow between borders." Published in 2003, Dharker's poem raises questions about the possibilities of transcending one's own culture and prejudices.

Full Text*

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Type

Reading - Short Enough to Read Aloud.

Themes

Connection and RelationshipCrisis and ConflictDiversity and DifferenceExclusion and BelongingImpact and OutcomesJustice and EqualityOrganizing and ActivismRace, Ethnicity and CultureSocial and Political Change

Big Questions

Is difference a problem, an opportunity, a challenge or a gift?How do we respond to strangers?

Publication

Civically Engaged Reader

Spanish Version

Download a Spanish translation of this reading

Sample Discussion Questions

  1. What was your impression of the narrator? How would you describe her?
  2. Who are the “they” she refers to? Are they always the same or do they change?
  3. Why is the statement “She must be/from another country” an answer to all the situations Dharker's narrator describes? What is meant by it?
  4. What does the narrator mean by “country of freaks”? Who lives there?
  5. What does the narrator mean when she says the country “where all of us live… doesn't look like a country”?
  6. To whom is the narrator referring as “we” in the last stanza?
  7. Why is the narrator finally “happy to say… I must be/from another country”? Why is she happy? Do you believe her?
  8. Have you ever heard anyone say, “he or she must be from another country”? If so, what did they mean? How, if at all, did you respond?
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