Photo: Photo credit: Hayley Madden for The Poetry Society
Vahni Capildeo (b.1973, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago) won the Forward Prize for Best Collection in 2016 with Measures of Expatriation. Asked about future projects in a subsequent interview, Capildeo spoke of writing ‘thing-like poems which did not belong in any of the recent books: moss, glass, lizard words’. Some of these have found their way into Venus as a Bear, a collection that explores the strange affinities humans have for creatures, objects and places.
Capildeo’s poetry deliberately resists purely biographical interpretation: the author elects to be identified as ‘they/them’ in the context of their work. They came to the UK in 1991 to study Old Norse at Christ Church in Oxford, and to work for the Oxford English Dictionary. Their advice for anyone starting out in poetry today is simple: ‘Delete Facebook. Go outdoors’.