“Boa Gravida” – Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné

Image: Boa, posted at Flickr by Suzanne Schroeter under a Creative Commons License.

Behold this intimacy.

“Boa Gravida”, which was shortlisted for the 2017 Montreal International Poetry Prize, is one of the best kinds of poems, in that it does not feel like it belongs to you. It is not written for you, either for your sympathy or your rage, for your adulation or your bitterness. You might call it a domestic tableaux, and not be wrong. You might also call it a creation myth that is itself charged with the equal labours of mythos and of making: to give birth, in any sense, means that something must unhinge: hip or jaw, depending on the origin. In “Boa Gravida”, we are opened at both sites. The poem’s knowing of us is both corporeal and psychic: we can but behold ourselves in its wilding wake.

The actioning language of the poem prompts both tenderness and feral violence. Boodoo-Fortuné tells us of writhing and cradling, of aching and rising. Waiting and whispering confronts shifting and shuddering. The poem peals with anticipatory softness, of cradling a new-made skull in the ‘broad leaf’ of a parent’s hand. It rings, too, with the forewarning of pain: of the sundering of flesh necessary to vouchsafe a son’s arrival. Great risk coils serpentine and certain around the seedling heart of this safe world, of parents and progeny to come, progeny slow-germinating in the belly.

The poet builds her house on risk, promising no surety but the flint-eyed steadiness of an animal intelligence. We begin the poem with ‘minnow-soft’ love: an evolution of species and survivor’s instinct is love’s last incarnation in “Boa Gravida”: “the great mother boa / turning the soft egg of the world”. See here, this intimacy of spiralling resilience, cultivating a shelter for slowly growing bones. Offer prayer, before you enter such a fearsome and majestic home.

Read “Boa Gravida” here.
Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné’s first book of poems, Doe Songs, will be launched at the 2018 NGC Bocas Lit Fest.

Puncheon and VetiverThis is the first installment of Puncheon and Vetiver, a Caribbean Poetry Codex created to address vacancies of attention, focus and close reading for/of work written by living Caribbean poets, resident in the region and diaspora. During April, which is recognized as ‘National’ Poetry Month, each installment will dialogue with a single Caribbean poem, available to read online. NaPoWriMo encourages the writing of a poem for each day of April. In answering, parallel discourse, Puncheon and Vetiver seeks to honour the verse we Caribbean people make, to herald its visibility, to read our poems, and read them, and say ‘more’. 

The 2013 NGC Bocas Lit Fest – A Blogger’s Logbook [Day One]

For the first time this week, when I woke up this morning I didn’t feel compelled to race into Port of Spain with my notebook at the ready and a blue Staff Badge slung around my neck. Goodness, I thought, it’s over. This year’s Bocas is actually over. 

Anyone who’s been behind the scenes at a literary festival can likely understand my simultaneous physical and mental exhaustion-elation combo. The Bocas Lit Fest continues to be a whirling dervish of an institution, picking up momentum and reach with each passing year. This was the festival’s third, and I’m thrilled to have reprised my role as Festival Blogger and Social Media Coordinator, which means I spent each of the four festival days (April 25th to 28th) mad-enthusiastically livetweeting and liveFacebooking. Now that the literary dust is beginning to settle, I’ve begun my comprehensive post-festival blog coverage. Today was Blogger’s Logbook Day One! Here’s a tidy breakdown of what I covered — click on the summary titles in bold to go to the full posts on the official Bocas website!

Festival Welcome – Writers vs. Politicians

Festival foundress Marina Salandy-Brown gives the official Festival Welcome address!

This was the festival’s first official event, which served to set the tone for one of our Edinburgh World Writers’ Conference panels on Day Three, titled “Should Literature be Political?” (more of that on Day Three’s coverage!). Four local luminaries read excerpts from politically-charged passages of fiction, written by four Caribbean authors.

Father Figures – Colin Grant and Hannah Lowe

Poet Hannah Lowe reads from her collection, Chick.

A panel of poetry and memoir, featuring the work of Hannah Lowe and Colin Grant, both writing about their Jamaican-British fathers, as well as the complicatedness of family life and the experience of enacting remembrance through writing.

New Talent Showcase – Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné

Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné reads a selection of her prizewinning poems.
Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné reads a selection of her prizewinning poems.

Each year, Bocas selects three emerging writers of great promise who are close to completing their first manuscript of work. This year, Trinidadian poet (and my friend) Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné was the first to be featured. I wax lyrical and occasionally mushy in my blog post, so to hear me gush over her brilliant and heartstopping verse, go there!

Fiction – Courttia Newland and Ifeona Fulani

Courttia Newland, author of The Gospel According to Cane, responds to a question.
Courttia Newland, author of The Gospel According to Cane, responds to a question.

Two fiction writers, Courttia Newland and Ifeona Fulani, read from their newly released books and discuss technique; form and dialogue use in their own narratives, as well as in the stories of others.

Join me tomorrow, as I wrap up Day One’s blogs, and cover a cross-section of panels, readings and events from Day Two!

All photographs by Maria Nunes, Official Festival Photographer.