Itwaru was born in British Guiana in 1942. He migrated to Canada in 1979. He is a poet, novelist, short story writer, artist and incisive social critic. He was one of the very first Indian Guyanese writers, along with Rooplall Monar and Sheik Sadeek, to explore the violent and bitter reality of sugar estate life, the tensions between the races and the struggle between Hinduism and Christianity for Indian minds. His first novel Shanti (1988) has a powerful charge in its brief, condensed hyper-reality in following the torments of a young Indian woman and her male lover’s failure to support her. Itwaru followed this with a collection of stories, Mornings of Yesterday (1999) which traverses Guyana and Canada, and Home and Back (2001), in which, after 20 years in Canada, an Indian Guyanese makes a difficult and painful return to a much deteriorated postcolonial nation.
As a fine, spare modernist poet, Itwaru has published collections such as Shattered Songs (1982), Entombed Survivals (1987), and Body Rites (1991). In recent years, his work focused mainly on studies of the deceptions of mass media, Canadian Multiculturalism and the construction of racist and imperialist mentalities.
He taught at the University of Toronto for many years before passing away in 2021.
More about the author
The July 1990 issue of Kyk-Over-Al includes Itwaru’s poem “chant two,” as well as an in-depth review of Shanti (1988).
Itwaru’s former students look back on his role in developing the Caribbean Studies program at the University of Toronto.
Shanti is available online to readers with print disabilities through a special Internet Archive program.