Hello and welcome to another day of Poetry World Cup action. Bermuda looked in impressive form at the start of yesterday’s match, leading by 25 votes at one stage, but a surge of support for Tunisia overnight saw them sneak through at the last minute. Venezuela’s win over the US in the opening match of the round has really opened up that section of the draw, and it’ll be fascinating to see which poem makes it all the way to the final. For today’s match-up, we’re bringing you a colourful Caribbean derby — two fantastic poets, two fantastic poems, but there can only be one winner.
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.
St. Lucia, an island with a rich literary tradition (its poets include Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott), is represented by John Robert Lee. Described as ‘undoubtedly the foremost Caribbean Christian writer of his generation’, John Robert Lee has been at the heart of St. Lucian cultural life for many years — reviewing literature and theatre, producing and presenting radio and television programmes, and writing regular columns for newspapers and periodicals. His new and selected poems, ‘Elemental’, are available from Peepal Tree Press.
Trinidad and Bulgaria proved to be very evenly-matched in one of the tightest games of the opening round, with Trinidad eventually emerging as the winner by just three votes. St. Lucia had a marginally easier time in their game against Canada, winning by a comfortable margin of 16 votes. Verdict: too close to call.
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
Make contact with them,
please, be flexible…
~ Vahni Capildeo
This, the Port of the boat people
This, the Port of their Prince
Docks of sails in sunset—
This is the Port of the boat people
After Dessalines and Duvalier, HIV and cholera
After tornado and tremblor
The Gadarene adventure and their Bay of Pigs
Canoewrecks off Florida, the invading boots of marines
From caravel to carrier—
After the desolate cities of my pilgrimage
And diverse tribulations…
~ John Robert Lee
RESULT: Trinidad & Tobago won by 5 votes