Trini Poet Nehassaiu deGannes Revisits her Caribbean Roots in “Music for Exile”

Trini Poet Nehassaiu deGannes Revisits her Caribbean Roots in "Music for Exile"

Nehassaiu deGannes

by Howard Campbell

TORONTO, Canada –Even though she left her native Trinidad and Tobago at age three, Nehassaiu deGannes has never lost touch with her Caribbean heritage. She revisits those roots in Music for Exile, a collection of poems scheduled for release in February by Tupelo Press.

Other poems in the book reflect on places where deGannes has lived and studied, such as Toronto, Philadelphia and Providence, Rhode Island.

The Toronto-reared deGannes describes her poetry as “Vividly of the moment, while layered with the swirling weight of history.”

She adds that, “Music for Exile centers (around) the perspective of a Caribbean immigrant girl growing into womanhood as she confronts all species of violence.”

One of her recent poems, To Find, To Be, was a finalist in the Montreal International Poetry Prize Competition in September.

Though that was won on September 21 by American Victoria Korth’s Harlem Valley Psychiatric Center, being one of the 50 selected contestants was a big plus for deGannes who has concentrated more on acting in recent times.

It was while attending Brown University in Rhode Island that the acting bug bit her. She has appeared in several stage productions and recently made her film debut in Equal Standard, starring Ice T.

As to whether she prefers acting over poetry, she refers to her Caribbean background.

“Isn’t that like asking a Trini if she prefers Peas… or Rice? Let me put it this way: I was in Cleveland playing Cynthia in Lynn Nottage’s Pultizer Prize-winning play, SWEAT, and had literally just exited the stage and was still in my costume, when I received the email from Tupelo Press. They wanted to publish Music for Exile! Seems I’m happily meant to do both. Peas and Rice!” she said.



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