Coolitude poetics interview with Shivanee Ramlochan

Shivanee Ramlochan PC: Marlon James

Shivanee Ramlochan is a Trinidadian poet, arts reporter, and book blogger. She is the book reviews editor for Caribbean Beat Magazine. Shivanee also writes about books for the NGC Bocas Lit Fest, the Anglophone Caribbean’s largest literary festival, as well as Paper Based Bookshop, Trinidad and Tobago’s oldest independent Caribbean specialty bookseller. She is the deputy editor of The Caribbean Review of Books. She was the runner-up in the 2014 Small Axe Literary Competition for Poetry, and was shortlisted for the 2015 Hollick Arvon Caribbean Writers’ Prize. Her first book of poems, Everyone Knows I Am a Haunting,will be published by Peepal Tree Press on October 3rd, 2017.

Poetics of Andre Bagoo

A Coolitude interview

Andre Bagoo: PC Marlon James

Andre Bagoo is a Trinidadian poet and writer. He is the author of Trick Vessels (Shearsman Books, 2012), BURN (Shearsman Books, 2015) and Pitch Lake (Peepal Tree Press, 2017). His poetry has appeared at Boston Review, Caribbean Review of Books, Cincinnati Review, St Petersburg Review, The Poetry Review and elsewhere. He was awarded the Charlotte and Isidor Paiewonsky Prize by The Caribbean Writer in 2017.

Caribbean vocabularies of Coolitude: Surinam and Trinidad


Articulating the Caribbean as one geopolitical place has been a problematic that Silvio Torres-Saillant has delineated in his book Caribbean Poetics: Toward and Aesthetics of West Indian Literature. Torres-Saillant posits that in order to understand the literature being produced in the Caribbean the reader must first understand that ideas of literature, literary theory, and language are not necessarily universal. What he means is that the Caribbean must be understood in terms of its own history before any claims can be made about the literary merit of its writings.

Vocabularies of indenture in the Indian labor diaspora

Girmitiya women working

In her book Mythologies of Migration, Vocabularies of Indenture: Novels of the South Asian Diaspora in Africa, the Caribbean, and Asia-Pacific, Miriam Pirbhai articulates the specificities of diaspora that are usually overlooked by scholars like Vijay Mishra in their approach to understanding the concerns of the Indian Labor Diaspora as unified. The context of each writer is usually neglected in favor of pointing out cohesion between national groups without a consideration of the nuances that shade each diasporic context.

Coolitude: Theoretical underpinnings

The term Coolitude is derived from “coolie,” a word originating in Tamil that means “laborer” with the implication that the labor provided is physical in nature. The British started taking Indians into their colonies in 1838, a trade that lasted until 1917, created to provide labor needed in sugar plantations after slavery was abolished. Its roots are in labor and works to reclaim an identity that acknowledges histories of labor and the British labor trade in the colonies. This type of movement that faces Asia from spaces where overseas Indians live counters common wisdom that holds that fictions of “race” create identity.


kuli nam dharaya

Natalwa me ai ke

bhajan karo bhaya

hath me cambu

kandh me kudari

pardesita ghare jai


They’ve given you the name “coolie”

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