Author Information

Michael Bagley


The formal qualities of poetry often reflect the time and culture in which the poem is written. Blank verse not only reflects a natural cadence of the English language, but also enables, to some degree, the “freethinking tendencies” that defined many poets’ relationship with God and institutional religion throughout in the 17th century (Gerber 249). The Japanese haiku, in which form and theme are intrinsically connected, reflects the Japanese ideology of the interconnectedness of nature. Agha Shahid Ali, a Kashmiri poet who writes exclusively in English, often uses form to complicate this notion. Ali was born into a wealthy Muslim household in Kashmir. He attended an Irish Catholic school and a Hindu University. His parents were religiously tolerant and provided Ali with the space and encouragement to pursue his poetic aspirations from a young age (Benvenuto 262). The conflicts between the religious and cultural tolerance within in his household, and the religious and cultural conflicts that have plagued Kashmir’s history are a source of tension throughout much of Ali’s poetry. Specifically, in his poem “Tonight,” Ali uses form and allusions to express the complexities of cultural, religious, and national identities of people from conflicted societies like Kashmir.

Note on the Author

Michael Bagley is a senior majoring in English and Secondary Education. His research for this project was completed under the mentorship of Dr. Susan Levas- seur (English) in the Fall of 2017. For his honors thesis, he is investigating the effects and best practices of using multicultural literature in the high school classroom. Much of his work at BSU is related to poetry and the cultural lens through which literature is written and read. After graduating, Michael plans to teach high school English.

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