A complex, rich and rewarding new poetry collection from Raymond Ramcharitar.
50 is an age to see where you stand with the world and where the world stands with you. Though the collection does not begin “Midway through this life...”, the first two poems are about a Modern Angel and a Modern Virgil. Ramcharitar offers ferociously satiric views of the Modern Caribbean, Modern Journalism and a world inhabited by Trump and Jong Un; in a world that’s out of joint, it’s not surprising to find the Modern Mind trying to mend itself after it’s been shattered. Behind the mordant, funny, and often sad voices speaking in the poems, there’s a romantic spirit at work, a touching faith in the powers of poetry. There’s an investment in formal poetic structures and rigorous rhyming which is not just an acknowledgement of one patron saint, Derek Walcott, but a means to discipline strong feelings. Other patron saints, angels and demons roam the collection’s pages – like the angel formerly known as Sinead O’Connor, the fragile, rebellious figure who calls forth a poem of solidarity and tenderness. From the Mahabarata
and The Tempest
, Kafka and Joyce to synth-pop heroes like OMD, and elegies for VS Naipaul and Derek Walcott, 50 is the time to confess some strange and unexpected cultural tastes, and acknowledge your realisation of a Prufrockian insignificance in the grand scheme of things. And 50 is also the painful time of saying farewell to parents and questioning what you have given your children, about both of which Ramcharitar writes with touching grace.