Tantie Diablesse by Fawzia Kane

by Shivanee Ramlochan, Paper Based Blogger

TantieDiablesseIf they were guests at a dinner party, Fawzia Kane’s poems wouldn’t bluster or shove their way into conversation. Quite the opposite: they would linger thoughtfully in the corridors or on the balcony, then present themselves with earnest clarity. The more time you spend with them, the more they reveal that they are made up of rich, folkloric allusion, flavoured with an architectural eye for precision, gracefully primed to impact well.

Part One of this first collection takes us to places we have beheld, and places out of the line of our vision. Its poems are steeped in the past while eschewing maudlin sentiment, or weighty nostalgia. The past is always around us, jostling with the present for supremacy, pieces like “How to Breathe” seem to say.

Part Two brings the reader face to face with Tantie Diablesse herself, a figure of legend and everyday mischief, one writ large in the creative imagination of any Trini who’s dreamed up beautiful women with suspicious feet. In these fourteen Tantie-centric pieces, this wildly infamous lady shares her secrets while proudly proclaiming her sovereignty: what emerges is a complex and deeply gratifying portrait of a figure both feared and revered.

Longlisted for the 2012 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, Tantie Diablesse reads just like that poetic party guest you want never to leave your bedside table.