The context in which a poem was written can sometimes tell you more about its themes, message and meaning.

Some questions you might ask include:

  • are aspects of the poet's life reflected in the poem?
  • is the time or place in which it was written reflected in the poem?

You will need to research the poet’s background to discover answers to these questions. But if you do write about a poem and its context, be careful to include only details that reveal something about the poem.

Context of 'Living Space'

A birdseye view photo of slums in Mumbai
Imtiaz Dharker's knowledge of Mumbai is evident in this poem

Imtiaz Dharker is a contemporary poet who was born in Pakistan and grew up in Scotland. She has written five collections of poetry and often deals with themes of identity, the role of women in contemporary society and the search for meaning. She draws on her multi-cultural experience in her work.

She is also a film director and has scripted a number of documentaries in India, supporting work with women and children. Dharker's intimate knowledge of Mumbai is evident in this poem. She works to raise awareness of issues in other countries.

More about commenting on context.