From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
A 19th-century depiction of Chaucer

Poet-Diplomats are poets who have also served their countries as diplomats. Perhaps the best known is Geoffrey Chaucer. Some of them, such as Gabriela Mistral, Saint-John Perse, Miguel Ángel Asturias, Pablo Neruda, George Seferis, Czesław Miłosz and Octavio Paz have won the Nobel Prize in Literature.[1][2][3]

Contemporary poet-diplomats include Abhay Kumar,[4] Indran Amirthanayagam, Kofi Awoonor, Philip McDonagh, Yiorgos Chouliaras [5] among others. The Ghanaian poet-diplomat Kofi Awoonor, who was widely translated and anthologized, was killed recently at Nairobi Mall Massacre.[6]

Kumar himself wrote, "There seems to be a connection between poetry and diplomacy as several diplomats over the ages have excelled in poetry".[7] He further adds, "Diplomacy is a complex art that involves the mixing of political acumen, cultural finesse, language abilities and conversation skills to wield the power of persuasion. Diplomacy is generally conducted in short sentences which reveal as much as much they hide. Poetry is no different".[1]

Aldo Matteucci wrote, "Many diplomats have used poetry in their diplomatic work: wrapping words in silk is the diplomat’s job. A diplomat may turn a lie into a ‘constructive ambiguity’ – which is a way of defining poetry.Some poets have been diplomats – Neruda, Claudel, St. John Perse. It’s an occupational hazard: the stimulating place, the sheltered existence – and the ability to paraphrase the unknowable. Few diplomats will admit to using poetry as a survival strategy".[8]

Dr.Kamel S. Abu Jaber wrote,"The language of diplomacy, often like poetry, has the ability to move people from mood to mood".[9]

Stefano Baldi and Pasquale Baldocci wrote in their book 'Through the Diplomatic Looking Glass',"The publication of poetry by diplomats seems more inspired by an inner need to express oneself freely than the wish to share sensations and feelings developed during the career. Only verses with their detachment from reality can present an escape from cold and bureaucratic style often imposed by the profession".[10]

Brazil bestowed the rank of Ambassador posthumously to its poet-diplomat Vinicius de Moraes recognizing his poetic talent.[11]

Famous Poet-Diplomats[edit]

Poet-diplomat Abhay Kumar in Gangtok, Sikkim
Neruda as a young man


  1. ^ a b Abhay Kumar (November 3, 2012). "Two shades of passion". The Kathmandu Post. 
  2. ^ Diplomats as litterateurs The Hindu August 29, 2004
  3. ^ Bertolet, Craig E. (1998). "Chaucer's Envoys and the Poet-Diplomat". The Chaucer Review 33 (1): 66–89. Retrieved 31 January 2014. 
  4. ^ "Well versed in diplomacy". Nepali Times. 17–23 January 2014. 
  5. ^ Yiorgos Chouliaras Harvard Review July 24, 2013
  6. ^ Kofi Awoonor: the literary world pays tribute The Telegraph September 22, 2013
  7. ^ Abhay Kumar (December 7, 2012). "Poetry and Diplomacy". The Daily Telegraph. 
  8. ^ Aldo Matteucci (November 2, 2007). "Poetry: A Survival Strategy for Diplomats". Reflections on Diplomacy. 
  9. ^ Kamel S. Abu Jaber (2001). "Language and diplomacy". DiploFoundation. 
  10. ^ Stefano Baldi and Pasquale Baldocci (2007). "Poetry and Theatre". Through the Diplomatic Looking Glass (page 57)Paperback, 176 pages ISBN 99932-53-18-1. 
  11. ^ Brazil bestows posthumous rank on poet, diplomat Vinicius de Moraes The People's Daily August 17, 2010

External links[edit]