Malagasy ecopoetics: The hybrid poetry of Parny, Rabearivelo and Mahaleo

Christie Margrave

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Malagasy literary production has long displayed a discourse with Madagascar’s unique environment, often linking this with an exploration of island identity. This article examines and compares poetic writing in Madagascar across 350 years. It studies the anti-colonial prose poems of eighteenth-century white creole poet Évariste Parny alongside early twentieth-century poems of Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo, who brings French Symbolism into contact with traditional Malagasy verse, and lyrical poetry by the musicians in the modern folk-pop band Mahaleo, who bring a mixture of traditions to a unique Malagasy style of music. Parny, Rabearivelo, and Mahaleo all build on and break with generic convention of poetic form, and all do so to draw attention to the island’s specific experience of ecological colonial violence and to their interpretation of eco-regional identity. Their writings help us make sense of the ecological changes in Madagascar during and after colonisation, and of the human response to these changes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-104
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Romance Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


  • Malagasy poetry
  • Malagasy music
  • environment
  • ecopoetics
  • postcolonialism
  • hybridity
  • identity
  • eco-regions
  • eighteenth century
  • twentieth century
  • Madagascar
  • eighteenth-century literature
  • twentieth-century literature

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