New anthology of poetry sees community through a different lens

Roraima is a newly published anthology of poetry from emerging Caribbean-Canadian writers, Ken Ramphal, Ram Jagessar, Harry Persaud, Naraine Datt, Habeeb Alli and Roop Misir.


The anthology reveals itself in 75 poems from the six different viewpoints of these former Caribbean immigrants who have made a new life in a new country, as part of a massive Caribbean population of well over a million and an Indo-Caribbean community of some 250,000.

There isn’t much wallowing in nostalgia here. The poets have memories and connections, good and bad, with the Caribbean, but their centre of gravity is firmly where they live in North America.

New and somewhat different Caribbean men and women are emerging, and they all believe that is a good thing, indeed.

The “Caribbeans” are no longer exiles but see themselves as having a life of their own. Their focus point has long ceased to be the Caribbean, and they are mostly Canadian and U.S. citizens now, with a broader vision of the world and their place in it than the “fresh off the plane” Trinis and Guyanese of past years. Many are older too, parents and grandparents; most have done fairly well, and have quietly abandoned original ideas of returning “home”. Their real home now is Canada, the U.S., Britain, wherever they have lived the last few decades.

They don’t want to be assimilated into the White mainstream culture here, or even become part of the massive South Asian contingent.

“We are our own people, and so wish to stay,” is how they feel. They tend to have a more critical eye towards their former Caribbean homelands, now seen as Third World countries with all that implies, though they are careful not to say that to the easily angered Caribbean natives.

These are all slices of Caribbean life and attitudes in Canada, all cut from real life, showing how the community is coming of age and becoming independent. It’s a situation mostly unknown to the folks “back home”, fixed in a 1970s and 1980s image of Caribbean exiles in Canada freezing at the bus stop, longing for a good pepper sauce and wanting desperately to go back home.

Something new and mostly good is happening in Toronto, and also in Montreal, Winnipeg, Calgary, Vancouver, and similar groups are emerging in New York, Miami and Fort Lauderdale in the U. S.

This is the new reality that the anthology, Roraima, portrays through the many works that are shared on its pages.

Roraima is available on at and also from the authors in the Greater Toronto Area.

A book launch is being planned for early January 2012. Ram Jagessar, one of the contributors, can be reached at or at 416-289-9088.

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