Vahni Capildeo

Vahni Capildeo
Vahni Capildeo

Vahni Capildeo (b. Trinidad,1973) went to the UK in 1991 to read for a BA (Hons) in English at Christ Church, Oxford (1991-5). Awarded a Rhodes Scholarship in 1996, she stayed at Christ Church, completing a doctorate in Old Norse literature and literary translation (2001). During a Research Fellowship at Girton College, Cambridge, Capildeo’s first poetry collection, No Traveller Returns (Salt, 2003) was published. Further collections include: Person Animal Figure (Landfill, 2005) (Guardian Poetry Book of the Year), Undraining Sea (Egg Box, due 2009) (Forward Prize Highly Commended individual poem), Dark & Unaccustomed Words (Egg Box, due 2010), Utter (in progress). Her poetry has been anthologized in The Oxford Book of Caribbean Verse (OUP, 2005), In the Telling (Cinnamon, 2009), Identity Parade (Bloodaxe, due 2009) and See How I Land (Heaventree, due 2009).

Capildeo works freelance for the Oxford English Dictionary. She is a Contributing Editor and the UK agent and representative for the Caribbean Review of Books. She is also a member of the International Advisory Board for the Journal of Indo-Caribbean Studies and a Contributing Advisor to Black Box Manifold, the University of Sheffield e-zine. After holding a Teaching Fellowship at the University of Leeds (spring semester 2009), Capildeo is co-designing and teaching on new MA at the University of Sheffield.

Capildeo has a strong interest in prose writing, particularly non-fiction. Her prose has appeared variously online and in print, for example in Iain Sinclair’s London: City of Disappearances (Penguin, 2006) and Jeanne Mason and Lisa Allen-Agostini’s Trinidad Noir (Akashic, 2008). Current projects include facilitating a ‘South-South’ writers’ exchange, initially between India and Trinidad. She is a co-editor (with Nicholas Laughlin and Anu Lakhan) of TOWN, a public art initiative linking global practitioners and mass audiences via the Internet and downloadable free-access files for private enjoyment, circulation and public postering:


Will you tell me a word
so beautiful that mourning
yields up its you to lift
an o towards an r,
or is a vowel’s ghost
so powerful that mourning
invests with amethyst
the lily fields of dawn?
Will you tell me a word
so beautiful that morning
reflects off it – a gift –
Fearless, aurorean –

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