To extend my look into Pirbhai’s vocabularies of indenture I consider Khalil Torabully’s poetry, the generator of the Coolitude concept. It is through his conceptualization of Coolitude that the Mauritian poet establishes a discourse that empowers the Indian labor diaspora to begin to draw connections between themselves despite national identities.
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.
Critic, writer, and novelist David Dabydeen was born in 1955 in Berbice, Guyana, moving to England with his parents in 1969. He read English at Cambridge University, gained a doctorate at University College London in 1982, and was awarded a research fellowship at Wolfson College, Oxford. David Dabydeen is Director of the Centre for Caribbean Studies and Professor at the Centre for British Comparative Cultural Studies at the University of Warwick. He is also Guyana’s Ambassador-at-Large and a member of UNESCO’s Executive Board.
One of the most important poets of the Indian Labor Diaspora is Mahadai Das (1954–2003). Born in Eccles, East Bank Demerara, Guyana, her poem “They Came In Ships” serves as an ancestor poem to all of the poetry written by Indo-Guyanese people today. According to Peepal Tree Press’s website,
The poetry of David Dabydeen’s Coolie Odyssey (1988) is the first of the Indo-Caribbean body of poetry that I examine, as it was my own personal entry point into poetry. In his first book of poems, Slave Song, Dabydeen wrote entirely in Guyanese Creole ekphrastic poems that gave voice to the brown and black bodies painted by colonials in Guyana during the days of slavery and indenture-era plantations. This book moves between Guyanese Creole and standard English to produce the effect of a Caribbean person living a bicultural life in diaspora.