Describe the importance of the title of the poem "The Mongrel" by Canisia Lubrin and how it relates to the topic of diaspora.

The title of Canisia Lubrin's poem "The Mongrel" is significant in that it highlights the similarities, both positive and negative, between "mongrels" and victims of diaspora. Both are disconnected from their origins and do not belong to specific groups. Both are also resilient, strong, and able to adapt to difficult circumstances.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The term diaspora is used to refer to the scattering and relocation of a group of people who share a common heritage to an area (or areas) away from its native geographic land.

Unlike migration, this movement is often forced. Victims of diaspora usually do not choose to leave their homeland, but they are often forced into doing so by intolerable living conditions (e.g., natural disasters, colonialism, imperialism, wars, etc.).

A common result of diaspora is a sense of separation and alienation among the affected population. These people are not only away from their homes but are often also away from their friends and family and, especially over time and generations, often lose touch with their culture and roots.

The title of Canisia Lubrin's poem "The Mongrel" is highly significant and closely relates to the topic of diaspora.

The word mongrel is often used to refer to a dog of mixed breeds. These dogs are not bred intentionally and do not belong to a particular breed. Mixed-breed dogs are also referred to as mutts. Both of these words have also come to be used as derogatory terms for people of mixed races or ethnicities.

In her poem, Lubrin compares a victim of diaspora to a mongrel. Some of these comparisons emphasize the negative traits shared by the two. Both do not belong to a specific, recognized group. Both are alienated from others and from their roots. As is the case with many people, the roots of dogs described as mutts are unknown. It is difficult if not impossible to feel connected to the history of one's kind if that history is unclear or unknown. Just as evidence of specific breeds fade in mongrels over time, diaspora victims lose more and more of their culture and heritage over generations.

Lubrin's comparison can also be interpreted in a more positive light. Mutts or mongrels are animals known for their ability to endure difficult conditions and survive and thrive in spite of the obstacles they face. Victims of diaspora are similarly strong, resilient, and adaptable.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on