Poetry and diplomacy: Telling it slant


The study looks at some defining similarities and differences between poetry and diplomacy. It shows that both pursuits make extensive use of underspecification and illustrates how each deploys a variety of shared tropes, from ambiguity to metaphor, neologisms and parataxis. Despite these similarities in language, the reasons for resorting to implicit communication differ significantly, with only one exception – redress. Redress, which is the attempt to find a counterbalance to anomalies and injustices, requires the ability to keep two or more potentially conflicting views in mind. The article concludes that ambivalence is a necessary attribute of both a poet and a diplomat and that well-judged ambiguity is an essential vehicle for redress.

KEYWORDS: diplomacy, poetry, ambiguity, language and thought, redress, communication

BILJANA SCOTT. Senior Lecturer at DiploFoundation, Associate Member of the China Centre, University of Oxford. Was trained as a linguist (BA in Chinese, MA and DSc in Linguistics) at the University of Oxford. Teaches Political Language and Public Diplomacy at DiploFoundation (Geneva and Malta), and at the China Centre, University of Oxford. Runs workshops on Language and Diplomacy for a variety of clients, ranging from the European External Action Service, Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Diplomatic Academies to Universities and the private sector.

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