Ramlochan’s poems take the reader through a series of imaginative narratives that are at once emotionally familiar and compelling, even as the characters evoked and the happenings they describe are heavily symbolic. Her poems reference the language and structural patterns of the genres of fantasy or speculative fiction, though with her own distinctive features, including the presence of such folkloric Trinidadian figures as the Duenne, those wandering lost spirits whose feet point backwards. Her speakers live in a world that is located somewhere between the fantastic and the ordinary.
A woman is invariably the protagonist and Ramlochan is eloquent in her exploration of the ways in which gender has to be negotiated. They constantly challenge the stereotypes of the female. The female force that Ramlochan explores in her poems is creative and destructive, vulnerable and untameable. In poem after poem, the female assumes the elemental roles of both saviour and devil. There is, for instance a revision of the role of Eve and the gendering of a Blakean challenge to the false division between God and Satan, most famously realised in Milton’s Paradise Lost. Here, Ramlochan finds great mythical possibilities in the figure of Lilith, a familiar feminist trope.
Shivanee Ramlochan is a Trinidadian poet, arts reporter and book blogger. She is the Book Reviews Editor for Caribbean Beat Magazine. Shivanee also writes about books for the NGC Bocas Lit Fest, the Anglophone Caribbean’s largest literary festival, as well as Paper Based Bookshop, Trinidad and Tobago’s oldest independent Caribbean specialty bookseller. She is the deputy editor of The Caribbean Review of Books.
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