Having recorded the biggest win of round one and received the most votes in round two, can Singapore keep the momentum building in today’s Poetry World Cup quarter-final against Trinidad & Tobago? Of the four poems from our Caribbean issue selected for the tournament, Vahni Capildeo’s ‘Simple Complex Shapes’ is the last one standing. Will ‘Team Antilles’ unite behind Trinidad? We’re about to find out.
MEET THE POETS
Trinidad and Tobago’s poet is Vahni Capildeo, whose most recent collection of poetry, ‘Utter’, has been described as tearing down ‘old boundaries… between the past and present, between human and animal, animate and inanimate, between the Caribbean and the global elsewhere.’ She has been appointed to the 2014 Judith E. Wilson Visiting Fellowship in Poetry at the University of Cambridge, and is a judge for this year’s Forward Prizes.
Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé is Singapore’s representative. The recipient of the PEN American Center Shorts Prize, Swale Life Poetry Prize and Cyclamens & Swords Poetry Prize, among other awards, he also has a theology masters (world religions) from Harvard and fine arts masters (creative writing) from Notre Dame. His work spans various genres —ethnography, journalism, poetry, and creative nonfiction: ‘I’ve come to realise,’ he says, ‘that… I was meant to work across artistic media. The hats are all funky to wear, and life is a grand party.’
These two poems have had contrasting routes to the quarter-finals. Trinidad have come through two very tight games, finishing 3 votes ahead of Bulgaria in the opening round and 5 ahead of St. Lucia last time out. Singapore, meanwhile, have pulled in more votes than anyone else so far, and they start this match as strong favourites.
Take her by the hand,
by the hair,
shut your eyes and lead her
to the sea
for the great ceremony of presentation:
where, if she’s to dance,
she’ll enjoy horizons.
These warm trees,
they have intentions…
~ Vahni Capildeo
“It was game season, and there was blood and lust in their eyes. It was no different from Rome in the old days. Gladiators, lions, slaves, the ringmaster, thrust in a ring together. No different. No different at all.” In the next hour, Geronimo practically talks to himself, gives himself a lesson in violence as spectacle. “What are the forces of tradition? How do they bear down on these peoples? We are in their debt really. We don’t get to see this kind of steadfastness in the city…
~ Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé
Editor’s note: If, for any reason, you’re unable to vote in the poll, please leave the name of the poem/country you’d like to vote for in the comments.