Photo by Denise Noone, Glasgow.
Sasenarine Persaud is a Canadian-American author of Indian ancestry and originator of the term Yogic Realism, his literary aesthetics. He has published essays in Critical Practice (New Delhi), World Literature Today (Oklahoma), and Brick (Toronto) on Yogic Realism. Over three decades of research into, and a lifelong engagement with, Indian philosophies, yoga, art, languages and music, along with his community’s 184 years domicile in the Americas, distinguishes his craft from his contemporaries. He has been described as a "major poet."
Persaud is the author of 15 books of prose and poetry including: awarding winning stories in his book, Canada Geese and Apple Chatney, the title story anthologized on both sides of the Atlantic and included in the Oxford Book of Caribbean Short Stories, Anthology of Colonial and Post Colonial Short Fiction and the Journey Prize Anthology: Short Fiction from the Best of Canada’s New Writers; two ground breaking novels, Dear Death and The Ghost of Bellow’s Man, the latter singularly dealing with the tensions and quirks of Guyana’s Hindu community under a brutally repressive South American regime; and his signature, raga-infused poetry collection, A Surf of Sparrows’ Songs, which alternates between Miami, Toronto, Guyana’s Atlantic coast and India. His poetry has appeared in several anthologies including The Oxford Book of Caribbean Verse and Another Way to Dance: Contemporary Asian Poetry from Canada and the United States.
Mattress Makers (June 2023, Mawenzi House), "celebrates the music in the seemingly mundane. Imbued with a deeply philosophical consciousness, and the questioning spirit of the ancients, it engages in the pleasures of technology, while ever cognizant of its drawbacks in its assault on the personal. As always, with this poet, there is an Upanishadic, yogic, and quantum search for truth and the essence of reality—the ancient Indian concepts of multiplicity, multipresence, and simultaneous existences finding support in cutting- edge quantum physics. The poems therefore flip on themselves, move in a blink from place to place, from time to time, from existence to existence. They delve into ancestries and the movement and intertwining of peoples, cultures, plants, animals, cuisines, languages, loves and the passing of eras. Love and the exuberance in the world around—centered in the Florida land-(and sea-) scape—permeates this work."
Monsoon on the Fingers of God (2018) examines the tensions attendant on identity and belonging inherent in a world where peoples, ideas and cultures migrate and interact on a scale never before seen in human history—a flux and tension which energizes his work. Vishnu Bisram writes in the Guyana Times International, “...eloquence, rhythm and musicality evident from the first page…this book is a thoughtful and deep meditation on identity and migrations…a voice of tranquility and unmistakable originality… [an] extraordinary collection of poems...." Imtiaz Dharker notes in Wasafiri, "His rhythms break away from the English canon, and repurpose its iambs for a cyclical structure built on a non-western sense of music...The nonlinear nature of perspectives defined by multiplicity is enacted formally in Persaud. But within this, he evokes a mystical humanism that transcends this fracturing effect. In World Literature Today, Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello observes, "Reading Sasenarine Persaud’s newest collection, Monsoon on the Fingers of God, is like stepping inside a clock and running a thumb along each gear and dial in order to better understand time... Readers never know, leaping from one poem to the next, in which century they might end up, speaking what language in what poetic form, to whose deity. Yet what prevails in each moment is the tenderness that is Persaud’s perspective." And Shikha Malaviya in India Currents, "Sasenarine Persaud invites the reader to journey with him into a deluge of history, religion, and geography, where notions of home and identity are constantly questioned and displaced… Throughout the collection, language and imagery glint off of each other, a dizzying Ferris wheel of taste, touch, and sound…Monsoon on the Fingers of God is an intricate dance between inclination and emotion, a palimpsest of migration in which several layers shine through. Along with the poet, the reader finds that their worldview has shifted, their way of looking at the world much brighter after the deluge."
His poetry includes a trilogy anchored by south Florida, while his most recent books have utilized Boston (In a Boston Night), Tampa (Lantana Strangling Ixora and Love in a Time of Technology) and Scotland (Monsoon on the Fingers of God) as touchstones for his continued innovations utilizing taal, rhythm and raagic modes on a plethora of subjects.
Sasenarine’s work is used in schools, colleges and universities in Canada, the Caribbean, Guyana, Mauritius, India, Italy, the UK and the US. Yogic Realism and his work has been the focus of a PhD dissertation and a Master’s thesis, and has been included in other dissertations and theses.
Persaud was born in Guyana and has lived for three decades in Canada and the United States. He makes his home in Florida.