The Blog of Cafe Dissensus Magazine – we DISSENT

Poem: Reference

Photo: LSE Blogs

By Gaurav J. Pathania

Reference is a loaded word.
In the mainstream, a reference equals an endorsement
But in the academic world
A reference is your existence
which is endangered
If you are not referred to.
Where else does one live
But in citations?

In reputable realms of academia
Brilliant and bright are those
who focus more on acknowledging than knowledge.
The successful one is well aware
that from review to interview
a reference works wonders.

A reference also serves as a defense
Academic jurors on high
know what to “indent”, place in “italics” and “parentheses”
And whom to give “space”.
The so-called “rational” people
Always live in “Track Change Mode”
And, like footnotes
Relentlessly, they find a way to loiter around the main text.

In the politics of referencing, content is compromised;
Innocuous questions or critiques
Pose an existential crisis for Tenured-Track.
The critics are ignored and their work is dismissed;
They are pushed to the back
Like an endnote
Which may be noticed with a cursory glance
or not at all…

Gaurav J. Pathania ( is a Post-Doctoral Researcher at the University of Southern California, and currently a Visiting Scholar at University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is the winner of All India Poetry Contest 2016, organized by The Poetry Society India. His forthcoming book on University Politics offers a new critique to the contemporary Indian academia.


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Cafe Dissensus Everyday is the blog of Cafe Dissensus magazine, based in New York City, USA. All materials on the site are protected under Creative Commons License.


Read the latest issue of Cafe Dissensus Magazine on ‘The importance of being a flaneur today’, edited by Maitreyee B Chowdhury, author, Bangalore India.

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