English in Africa

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‘First Pluck the Eyes Out’: mutilation in the poetry of Wopko Jensma

Ayub Sheik


Although the act of mutilation is a widespread cultural and aesthetic practice, its pathological manifestations prompt shock, dismay and serious concern. Wopko Jensma has appropriated these qualities of aberrant mutilation to foreground social despair in bizarre cameos of racial oppression and underclass misery. Jensma’s use of mutilation as a poetic resource is typical of his experimental style and departure from convention. His poetry of fragmentation, bizarre pathological motifs, selfmutilation, sado-machoism, and conflicted speakers dispersed across multiple subjectivities undermine the reductive politics of racial essence and privilege the marginalized in society. Image, narrative and diction coalesce in dissonant aesthetic strategies to express the anguish and psychological annihilation emanating from human degradation and despair.

Keywords: Mutilation, social despair, oppression, experimental poetry, dissonant aesthetics

AJOL African Journals Online