Vahni Capildeo

Vahni Capildeo

Surya Vahni Priya Capildeo (born 1973) is a Trinidadian writer, and a member of the extended Capildeo family which has produced notable Trinidadian politicians and writers (including V. S. Naipaul).

Born in 1973 in Port of Spain, she has lived in the United Kingdom since 1991.

Capildeo read English at Christ Church, Oxford. She was subsequently awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to pursue graduate work in Old Norse and translation theory, also at Christ Church. She was kindly allowed to intermit from a Research Fellowship at Girton College, Cambridge in 2000-4 in order to spend time in Trinidad and Jamaica. This produced No Traveller Returns (Salt, 2003;, a book-length poem sequence, and One Scattered Skeleton, a non-fiction book on the palimpsestic nature of place, memory, and language which takes its title from a poem by the Guyanese poet Martin Carter and moves between the U.K., the Caribbean, and Iceland. Extracts from One Scattered Skeleton have appeared in London: City of Disappearances (ed. Iain Sinclair), Stand Magazine, The Arts Journal (Guyana) and The Caribbean Review of Books.

Person Animal Figure, a three-character series of dramatic monologues, was published by Jeremy Noel-Tod's Landfill Press in 2005 (

The Undraining Sea (completed 2005), a third poetry collection, is forthcoming in 2009 from Nathan Hamilton's Norwich-based Eggbox Press. It is a three-section book that actively engages with William Carlos Williams's Paterson. To follow from Eggbox in 2009 or 2010 is Dark and Unaccustomed Words (completed 2008), which takes its title from George Puttenham's sixteenth-century Arte of Poesie. This was Puttenham's critical term for arcane or foreign imports into English. The poems in Capildeo's fourth book do not overtly theorize about poetry but rather seek to demonstrate, for example, the feeling and scope of certain parts of speech (prepositions, adjectives), forms, voices, or attitudes.

Capildeo has worked for a women's helpline as a volunteer and a volunteer trainer. At present she is a Contributing Editor at the Caribbean Review of Books (edited by Nicholas Laughlin) and a freelance researcher for the Oxford English Dictionary. She is working on a group of poems on the theme of 'Monolithicity', the start of a new book, Utter.


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