2020 poet in residence

Vahni Capildeo


Vahni Capildeo FRSL is a Trinidadian Scottish writer of non-fiction and poetry. Capildeo’s work includes seven books and several pamphlets. These range from the polyvocal autobiography focused through everyone except the author – including monsters – of No Traveller Returns (Salt, 2003), to the ekphrastic and animal poems exploring ‘itness’ in Venus as a Bear (Carcanet, 2018).


Capildeo won the Forward Poetry Prize for Best Collection for Measures of Expatriation (Carcanet, 2016), where lyric and prose tussle with how ‘identity’ is imposed on embodied selves that experience themselves as far more various; where Henry VIII woos Anne Boleyn with the gift of a falconry glove, and hounds of truth are loosed in a language of warring strikethroughs. Capildeo enjoys collaborative and interdisciplinary work, for example in an ongoing photometry project with Andre Bagoo, the latest iteration of which, http://www.lightsitepoetry.com, accompanies a pamphlet of expanded translations, Light Site (Periplum, forthcoming 2020). Islands inform Capildeo’s poetry, from their birthplace in Trinidad to Iceland, Inishbofin, and Lindisfarne.


Capildeo has held the Judith E. Wilson Poetry Fellowship at the University of Cambridge and the Harper-Wood Studentship at St John’s College, Cambridge, a Douglas Caster Cultural Fellowship at the University of Leeds, and the post of Writer in Residence at the University of the West Indies (St Augustine). They write a regular report for PN Review, and are a contributing adviser for Blackbox Manifold. Capildeo is Writer in Residence at the University of York, and a Seamus Heaney Centre Poetry Fellow at Queen’s University, Belfast.

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