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Between The Fence And The Forest

Comparing herself to a douen, a mythical being from the Trinidadian forests whose head and feet face in different directions, Jennifer Rahim's poems explore states of uncertainty both as sources of discomfort and of creative possibility.


Jennifer Rahim
Trinidad and Tobago
Date published
20 Aug 2007

The poems explore a Trinidad finely balanced between the forces of rapid urbanisation and the constantly encroaching green chaos of tropical bush, whose turbulence regularly threatens a fragile social order, and whose people, as the descendants of slaves and indentured labourers, are acutely resistant to any threat to clip their wings and fence them in.

In her own life, Rahim explores the contrary urges to a neat security and to an unfettered sense of freedom and her attraction to the forest 'where tallness is not the neighbour's fences/ and bigness is not the swollen houses/ that swallow us all'. It is, though, a place where the bushplanter 'seeing me grow branches/ draws out his cutting steel and slashes my feet/ since girls can never become trees'.

Jennifer Rahim is Trinidadian. She also writes short fiction and criticism. She is currently Senior Lecturer at The Liberal Arts Department, The University of the West Indies, St Augustine, Trinidad.

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Jennifer Rahim

Jennifer Rahim is Trinidadian. Her first collection of poems, Mothers Are Not the Only Linguists was published in 1992, followed by Between the Fence and the Forest, Approaching Sabbaths, which won a Casa de las Américas Prize 2010, and most recently Ground Level. She also writes short fiction, and published the acclaimed Songster and other stories in 2007, and most recently, Curfew Chronicles in 2017.

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