Ingrid Persaud

head and shoulders portrait of ingrid persaud
Russell Watson (R Studio), CC BY-SA 4.0

What is the first thing you wrote?

I wrote a short play when I was about thirteen.

Who do you write for?

I write for myself. It’s how I make sense of the world.

What was the first Caribbean book you read?

Form 1 – A Year In San Fernando by Michael Anthony. I grew up in San Fernando and I remember finding it curious that this little town could be in a book.

How many Caribbean writers from the 1940s and 50s could you name? How many women?

Sam Selvon, V.S. Naipaul, C.L.R. James, George Lamming. I read more from the 1960s – Orlando Patterson, Shiva Naipaul, Derek Walcott, Earl Lovelace. Women Caribbean writers? So few were being published then. My favourite Caribbean women writers include – Olive Senior, Jean Rhys, Shara McCallum, Leone Ross, Claire Adam, Lorna Goodison, Ramabai Espinet, Louise Bennett and Tessa McWatt.

Which writer do you wish you knew more about?

Sam Selvon is one of the most underrated writers and I would have loved liming with him.

What is the earliest piece of Caribbean writing you have read?

Probably Anansi stories.

Does the Caribbean’s literary past matter to you?

I would not be able to write as I do without the courageous literary voices of our past. Those pioneering writers claimed that what we write and how we write was serious literature. 

Who are our most important writers today?

This begs the question – important to whom and by what measure? Viewed this way it is bait we should resist.

What are you reading now?

I am reading Jamaica Anansi Stories by Martha Warren Beckwith. Published in 1924, it is a treasure trove that captures an oral history of this beloved character.