PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Tim Parksin conversation with Natalia Ginzburg
(PN Review 49)
Next Issue Subha Mukherji Dying and Living with De la Mare Carl Phillips Fall Colors and other poems Alex Wylie The Bureaucratic Sublime: on the secret joys of contemporary poetry Marilyn Hacker Montpeyroux Sonnets David Herman Memories of Raymond Williams
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PNR 250 Poetry Archive Banner
PN Review New Issue

This report is taken from PN Review 212, Volume 39 Number 6, July - August 2013.

Letter from Trinidad Vahni Capildeo
To travel through a land is different from travelling as a writer through a landscape. The writer travelling through, say, East Anglia, feels the landscape is worded, even in the absence of words. The words are actively absent, rather than unwritten. Ninth-century raiders destroyed monastic manuscripts. The travelling writer has been an imperfect reader, jettisoning must-read titles to draft new texts that perhaps will refuse to exist. Yet, despite the writer's imperfect reading, she or he is alive to words inhabiting every particle of a beloved, refashioned landscape abuzz and crumbling with syllables as if with sand and bees. Words are lying in wait. The nineteenth-century antiquarian furnished the shoreline with a linenfold ghost. The twentieth-century psychogeographer's sea teems with lumpish, phosphorescent herring. The Australian poet-patient is, Godlike, in everything.

What about places where a travelling writer might sustain an illusion of wordlessness; literary wordlessness? They are nonetheless unquiet. Between Piarco International Airport in Trinidad and the capital Port of Spain are miles of agricultural soil left untilled, or badly built over. This earth speaks doubly, an uncanonised speech. First, its history: imported labourers declared illiterate because not literate in English; 'education', desperation's mantra, leading to a blotting out of tongues and to oddities, like the Rajput whose English-language achievement was reciting from memory 'The Assyrian came down like a volf on the fold', his accent heavy with India and with ironic judgment of colonial culture. Second, the rich ground lies waste in a silence overwritten by supermarket-speak. 'China', ...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image