The Cinnamon Peeler Essay

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Fernando is a Seattle-based editor. In this essay, Fernando argues that Ondaatje's poem explores the complexities of identity and displacement through the use of a mythical identity.

In reviewing Michael Ondaatje's 1991 collection of poetry, The Cinnamon Peeler: Selected Poems, poet Cyril Dabydeen, referring to the "seemingly distinctive personae" that each poem in the collection seems to have, writes in World Literature Today that "Ondaatje essentially creates a mythos about himself." This "mythos"—the creation of new identities—characterizes much of Ondaatje's writing. His best-known example is the nameless, faceless, and nation-less burn victim in his Booker-prize winning novel The English Patient. As an immigrant to Canada from the South Asian island nation of Sri Lanka, Ondaatje has been ascribed a variety of often-conflicting identities as an immigrant writer. W. M. Verhoeven, writing about Ondaatje's ethnicity in Mosaic, a Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature, cites Arun Muhkerjee's...

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This section contains 1,562 words
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Poetry for Students
The Cinnamon Peeler from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.