Themes and message

Prejudice and discrimination

In the poem “Listen Mr Oxford don”, there is no explicit reference to discrimination, but this theme is implied throughout. The poem’s author, John Agard, is an immigrant himself and the poem may be intended to share some of Agard’s own experience with being discriminated against in the UK.

The first indication that the speaker of the poem has experienced discrimination can be found in the first stanza, where he presents himself as a “simple immigrant” (p. 69, l. 2) and states: “I didn’t graduate/I immigrate”(p. 69, ll. 4-5). The implication here is that he is seen as different or inferior because of his immigrant status but also because he does not have a higher education. However, the speaker could also suggest that having an education does not really matter in the eyes of prejudiced English people, as they will see immigrants as different and dangerous simply because they are not white English people. Furthermore, the immigrants’ culture - represented in the poem through the use of non-standard English that conveys the speaking style of Caribbean people...

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