Six Caribbean poets from the Toronto/Southern Ontario region have published an anthology, Roraima. Seventy-five poems are published by Roop Misir, Ken Ramphal, Ram Jagessar, Harry Persaud, Habeeb Alli and Naraine Datt. The anthology breaks new ground exposing a vision of Caribbean writing that goes beyond wallowing in nostalgia about former lives in Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and other parts of the Caribbean. A release says: "Roraima is a rich and varied collection of poems on many aspects of life in Canada and the perspectives of former immigrants who have adapted to life in a large, different and developed nation."
About the poets
Harry Persaud, a retired anthropologist, says, "These poems come from a Caribbean community that has been settled in Canada for many decades, and has a lifestyle that is mostly unknown to people in our former Caribbean homelands. "We find that even within Canada we here in Toronto may not know much about our cousins in places like Winnipeg, with a huge Caribbean population of over 50,000, and they also don't know us."
Ram Jagessar, a retired newspaper editor, commented all his poems are true and taken directly from the real-world lives of Caribbean people he has known in Canada. They reflect the movement of the new immigrant. "We are not the same people who came off the airplane a few decades ago, as our perspective has been widened. This is home now, the place where your children sleep. We need to tell how we live here and now," said Jagessar
Habeeb Alli, a Muslim imam, said: "My poems reflect my odyssey from a new immigrant to a context of religious life in Canada. I am attempting to introduce an enlightened Islamic perspective, for as you know Caribbean Muslims are generally quite moderate. And I am exploring the romantic concept of love within Islam."
Datt's poems reflect international interests and attitudes for a wide range of readers. He explores everything from the Nuclear Holocaust to domestic issues between man and wife. Datt, a retired school teacher, expresses liberal sympathies taking up the cause of people whether they are aboriginal Canadians, South Africans blacks or Rodney King.
Misir's poems explore a variety of topics including memories of his native Guyana, nature (seasons), shared culture, belief systems, spirituality, morality, human kindness, politics and world peace. Some poems make readers reflect, others stimulate thought-but all are intended to make the world a better place.
Ken Ramphal's poems deal with his feelings as a new immigrant. He tries to come to terms with the irrevocable past and with the ingratitude he encountered. On a more hopeful note, he describes the joy of being with his granddaughters, who represent a brighter future. The experience is cathartic.
• Roraima is available on www.amazon.com at www.amazon.com/Roraima-anthology-emerging-Caribbean. It will also be available from the authors and local venues in the Greater Toronto area. Contact Ram Jagessar at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 416-289-9088.