Most people think about the connections between music and poetry in a very abstract way — that assonance is the descendant of rhyme or that music and poetry occupy very different spaces. For me, music is the first poetry that I ever learned. I come from an oral culture — or at least an aural culture of performance and music, drama and stories.
To think of haunting as abstract and divorced from a present history is to depoliticize the present moment in which brown bodies actively resist oppression — be it from corrupt governments, institutional racism, and/or misogyny sponsored by a patriarchal culture. Yes, there is a past that haunts Caribbean poetic and imaginary landscapes: slavery, indenture, and colonization.
When thinking about haunting or being haunted, most remember moments of power outages and makeshift light — whether by torch or by fire. Haunting, as we will see, can also be something, a form or subject matter, that you find yourself returning to often. Do you ever finish writing a poem and think, I can’t believe that I’m writing about my ex again. What is it about that relationship that brings me back?
Elizabeth Jaikaran was born in Brooklyn, raised in Queens, and currently resides on Long Island with her husband. She graduated from the CUNY City College of New York in 2012 and from New York University School of Law in 2016. She has written for numerous platforms, most prevalently for Brown Girl magazine, and has published along a spectrum of genres, from legal analysis to comedy. As an author and a lawyer, Jaikaran hopes to be a voice for communities residing in underrepresented margins. She is the proud child of Guyanese immigrants.
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.