Photo by Denise Noone, Glasgow.
A “major poet” from South America, Guyana and the Caribbean, Sasenarine Persaud is the 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 180 years domicile in the Americas, distinguishes his craft from his contemporaries.
Sasenarine Persaud is the author of 14 books of prose and poetry including: awarding winning stories in his collection, 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.
Monsoon on the Fingers of God, his latest book, 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 ICDN.Today,“...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; and Yogic Realism and his work has been the focus of a PhD dissertation and, at least, one Master’s thesis.
Persaud was born in Guyana and has lived for three decades in Canada and the United States. He makes his home in Florida.