Indo-Guyanese Women Poets

Indo-Diasporic Currents

To unearth the language of women joined to a precious Caribbean space comes with the willingness to voyage through diasporic currents that embody Indo-Caribbean culture, art, and color in a breathtaking reminder of historical (dis)placement. Indo-Guyanese women writers, though not often published, memorialized their lives, philosophies, and imaginings in short breaths—stanzas encapsulating what Audre Lorde describes as “the foundations for a future of change, a bridge across [their] fears of what has never been before.” While uplifting the poetry of Indo-Guyanese women is a relatively recent scholarship (of the last thirty years), the women whose poetry are the most studied, uncoincidentally, are those who have been the most published. 

Rarely, if ever, are Indo-Guyanese women poets discussed without the mentioning of Rajkumari Singh, Shana Yardan, and Mahadai Das. Although the absence of other women poets is not necessarily the fault of scholars and historians, my project aims to uplift well-known voices in addition to contemporary poets Janet Naidu, Sharleen Singh, and Natalia Surujnath. My exploration of well-known poems in conjunction with contemporary poems has allowed me to traverse reimaginings of post-revolutionary Guyana (from 1968 onward). Of course, these women’s voices do not speak for all Indo-Guyanese women writers, but it is important to realize that the inner and external turmoil realized in their poetry characterize the quotidian realities of being an Indo-Guyanese woman living in a formerly colonized space. Close analyses and critical focus on these poems highlight each women’s beckoning towards a post-revolutionary Guyana that realizes its fault as a disunified nation. 

The poems displayed on my website are accompanied by audial and visual affordances that preserve this tradition of creative expression. Each poem has an audio file of me or my sister, Sophia Singh, reading out each poem. The audio clips are annotated so that readers can follow along. The titles of each poem are linked to separate pages that act as footnotes, highlighting significant themes and giving short definitions of cultural terms. Housing supplementary information on a separate page was an intentional choice that allows the readers to interact and read the poems for their lyrical, rhythmic, and literary movements apart from trying to understand all the cultural and historical references at once. My biggest hope is that this digital space serves as a salient reminder that Indo-Guyanese women have created literary imaginings and produced beautiful art: their work deserves to be recognized and displayed. 

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