Tuesday, January 03, 2006


I found this poem yesterday and felt that it summed up some of feelings people have living as immigrants. It is by Wole Oguntokun, who is a playwright, poet and a lawyer. His blog is laspapi.  Reproduced here with the kind permission of the writer. The Immigrant I’m trying to lose this accent trying to blend into my surroundings like insignificant wallpaper I’m trying to smile when you laugh at my mistakes. Trying to be a good sport. I’m trying to appreciate John Keats and William Butler Yeats I’m trying to put up a jolly good show I’m trying to sit in this blood-red bus and act as if I know this city and I’m trying to look inconspicuous. I’m trying to be dismayed when you catch a corrupt official Trying to forget he’d be a lord in my land Trying not to think of those I left behind Trying to forget how I almost didn’t make it out. I’m trying to be you, curse this clumsy tongue. Wole Oguntokun

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At 1/03/2006 07:15:00 PM, Blogger Laurelin said...

That's an incredibly moving poem.

On an unrelated note: Happy New Year, Devious :)

At 1/03/2006 08:24:00 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Oh forget Keats and Yeats, try French & Saunders, or Lennon & McCartney

Nice verse tho, universally applies.

At 1/04/2006 09:21:00 AM, Blogger The SeaWitch said...

That poem speaks for so many immigrants. In 19 lines, Wole has managed to capture the awkwardness, sadness and frustration an immigrant feels in a new country. It's so honest. I love it. Thank you Diva for posting it and thank you Wole for writing it.

and I’m trying to look inconspicuous

I’m trying to be you, curse this clumsy tongue.

Those lines jump out at me. I see so many immigrants who change their names, their religion, their customs in the effort to assimilate. The humility and determination needed for assimilation is something I don't have.

I believe in integration because it doesn't involve losing yourself in the process. I love having the choice of Indian, Thai, African, Italian, Spanish or Greek food when I went out to dinner in Canada. I love seeing people wear their traditional African/Indian/Arabic dress. I feel at home when I hear 5 different languages around me at parties. I love that I can talk to them all in English because they took the time to learn my language

I can't help but think that if my Greek, Arab and African friends back home had totally assimilated, I would have missed out on so much. They would have been like everyone else and that would have been so boring.

At 1/04/2006 11:27:00 PM, Blogger buruburu said...

Yes, I do agree with you seawitch. My response to the poem is simple. Stop trying and just be. Whatever good your adopted country has to offer you will wash on you in due time. Don't try just be.

At 1/05/2006 01:05:00 AM, Blogger scarfalonius said...

Yes, nice comments Seawitch. The poem is right on the mark.

At 1/05/2006 07:09:00 PM, Blogger deviousdiva said...

I agree, good comment seawitch and I totally agree on your points about intergration versus total assimilation.

At 1/08/2006 04:52:00 AM, Blogger laspapi said...

I come in here frequently for updates on humanitarian issues. Sea witch left very interesting and accurate observations about "the immigrant" poem, discerning some of the emotions that made me write it. Don't let your voice be still, diva, and thank you for trying to make the world a better place.

At 1/08/2006 05:10:00 PM, Blogger deviousdiva said...

Wole Oguntokun, thank you for your kind words of encouragement and thank you for your poetry.


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