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Book*hug Press

Oh Witness Dey! by Shani Mootoo (Paperback)

Oh Witness Dey! by Shani Mootoo (Paperback)

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Poetry Collection - Caribbean & Latin America


Shani Mootoo’s great-great-grandparents were brought to Trinidad as indentured labourers by the British. There is no record of where they were from in India or whether it was kidnapping, trickery, or false promises of wealth that took them to the Caribbean. 

In Oh Witness Dey! Mootoo expands the question of origins, from ancestry percentages and journey narratives, through memory, story, and lyric fragments. These vibrant poems transcend the tropes of colonial violence through saints and spices, rebellion and joy, to reimagine tensions and solidarities among various diasporas. They circumvent traditional conventions of style to find new routes toward understanding. They invite the reader to witness history, displacements, and the legacies of our inheritance.


SHANI MOOTOO was born in Ireland and raised in Trinidad. Mootoo's highly acclaimed writing includes the novels Cereus Blooms at Night and Polar Vortex, a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, as well as the poetry collections Cane Fire and Oh Witness Dey!. Her poetry has appeared in WasafiriPoetry Magazine, and Room Magazine. She has been awarded the degree of Doctor of Letters honoris causa from Western University, is a recipient of Lambda Literary's James Duggins Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prize, and the Writers' Trust Engel Findley Award. She lives in Southern Ontario, Canada.

"These poems remind us of the importance of looking back, because history defines our present and our future, as the past is not past, and the greed and violence echo down generations. Mootoo's voice captures that echo and yet transmutes it, elevates it into song." -- Kaie Kellough, Griffin Poetry Prize-winning author of Magnetic Equator

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