Shivanee Ramlochan

black and white portrait of Shivanee Ramlochan

What is the first thing you wrote?

Love poems to my mother.
Erotic slash fanfiction.
Lots and lots of lies.

Who do you write for?

Myself; various love/r/s and friends over the years whom I’ve hoped to woo, and have, successfully, with poems and short fictions; and in more recent times, for the under-represented, the at-risk, the dangerously underserved, the queer disenfranchised, the gender ambiguous and/or dismantling, and the dangerous themselves.

What was the first Caribbean book you read?

Harriet’s Daughter, by M. NourbeSe Philip.

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

The names of men have been multiply invoked in response here, by other writers answering the survey; I will list only women.
I take this question thusly: “from the 1940s and 50s” = either i) born or alive in that window, and/or ii) published at least one work in that time.

Finally, I will only list writers I have read, as I find that a more meaningful interface than rattling names I might know in passing, or in the making of prodigious but hollow lists.

Jean Rhys
Marie Vieux-Chauvet
Simone Schwarz-Bart
Mahadai Das
Yseult Bridges
Maryse Condé
Merle Hodge
Zee Edgell
Rajandaye Ramkissoon-Chen
Michelle Cliff
Myriam Warner-Vieyra

How many women?

Please see above.

Which writer do you wish you knew more about?

Always Jean Rhys.

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

Something unmemorable and mandatory in primary school, probably taught in boredom.

Does the Caribbean’s literary past matter to you?

Oh yes.

Who are our most important writers today?

I don’t know about that.

Here, instead, are some Caribbean writers from whom I feel most fed, deepest-challenged, most certain that their work resides at powerful intersections of risk, startlement, conjure, rootedness: Ayanna Gillian Lloyd; Safiya Sinclair; Vahni Capildeo; Nicholas Laughlin; Rajiv Mohabir; Sharon Millar; Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné; Marlon James; Kevin Jared Hosein; Malika Booker; Karen Lord; Loretta Collins Klobah.

What are you reading now?

The Painted Drum by Louise Erdrich, whose portrayals of the lives and vicissitudes of First Nations American women always stagger and overwhelm me.

The Perseverance by Raymond Antrobus, who generously opens a portal into the worlds of D/deaf experience, dislocation and rupture, with a language that envelops me.

O Crime do Padre Amaro by José Maria de Eça de Queiroz, because it is relentless, brutal, and gives that precise quality of unease in which the most useful education stirs, coiled and waiting.