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A Litany (for the native informant)*

by Shruti Rao

You are the distant object of oppression,
the native informant and the foreclosed.
You are the rohe Mensch of Kant,
and the subreption of the Sublime.
You are the Krishna riding the chariot,
consuming all of Time and Space.

However, you are not the English professor
in Delhi University,
or in Jawaharlal Nehru.
And you are certainly not the international grad student.
There is just no way that you are the international grad student.

It is possible that you are the inhabitant of Tierra del Fuego, maybe even the New Hollander,
But you are not even close
To being the noumenal subject, the thing-in-itself.

And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither represented,
nor an abstraction.

It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of the only brown person in the room.

I also happen to be the urbanized,
high-caste, well-to-do postcolonial,
the coagulate of many skins and hats.

I am also the knowledge migrant
and the cosmopolitan elite.
But don’t worry, I’m not the distant object of oppression.
You are still the distant object of oppression.
You will always be the distant object of oppression?not to mention the native informant and –somehow—the foreclosed.

* This poem is a [Gayatri Chakravorty] Spivakian reworking of the Billy Collins poem, “Litany” (

Shruti_bioShruti Rao is an editor, writer and academic from India. She is currently pursuing her (second) Master’s in Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice at the University of British Columbia, Canada. She has worked as an editor in journalism and in the world of children’s publishing before re-entering academia. She has been published in journals and magazines such as Coldnoon Travel Poetics, Prosopisia, Earthen Lamp Journal, Helter Skelter, Reading Hour, Governance Now, The Rose Project and The International Literary Quarterly.