Shivanee Ramlochan reviews Trinidadian poet and visual artist Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné in the July/August issue of Caribbean Beat:
Although Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné prefers to dwell in realms of possibility, rather than concrete certainty, the following is absolutely true about her talent: it speaks volumes. Her poems reveal an essential wilderness. Boodoo-Fortuné’s lines are primed for simplicity and brutality alike, holding half-drowned worlds of fishermen, of the promises stirring within buried bones, of mothers loving daughters, and all manner of unknowable, mysterious selves.
At the 2013 NGC Bocas Lit Fest in Port of Spain, Boodoo-Fortuné read several poems in the New Talent Showcase, including pieces from the submission that won her the 2012 Small Axe Literary Competition for poetry. In a post-reading discussion with Bocas Lit Fest programme director (and Caribbean Beat editor) Nicholas Laughlin, she suggested that many of the poems have “a shape-shifter’s heart.” Boodoo-Fortuné’s first book, an endeavour that’s been taking shape since 2010, has been earmarked for publication by Peepal Tree Press.
Born in 1986 in St Joseph, Trinidad, Boodoo-Fortuné does not, for the most part, credit the structured education system for the nascent growth of her life in words and drawings. Only during her undergraduate study of literatures in English at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine campus, she says, did she receive a galvanising affirmation of the importance of writing. This revelation came in the form of a creative writing course in poetry, taught by Casa de las Américas prize-winner Jennifer Rahim. “Dr Rahim believed strongly in my potential as a writer,” Boodoo-Fortuné reflects, “from the beginning.”
In 2009, she was awarded The Caribbean Writer’s Charlotte and Isidor Paiewonsky Prize for first-time publication. A 2010 alumna of the Cropper Foundation Residential Workshop for Caribbean Writers, Boodoo-Fortuné was also shortlisted for a Pushcart Prize that year. Her work has been published in a generous and diverse cross-section of print and online journals, including Poui, ARC, tongues of the ocean, Bim, and Anthurium.
And with her first solo exhibition as a visual artist, Boodoo-Fortuné’s work as a painter and illustrator has received burgeoning attention. Criatura opened in late June 2013 at the Art Society of Trinidad and Tobago. Painting and writing, she says, are two wholly separate processes that speak to the heart of her aspirations as a creative practitioner, from opposite ends of the divide, “like separate hands reaching out to grasp the same truth.” Working towards one’s truths, according to Boodoo-Fortuné, is what’s primal and irrevocable, whether they emerge in ink on paper, or in pigment on canvas.
[Many thanks to Jo Spalburg for bringing this item to our attention.]
Photograph (by Maria Nunes) from http://www.bocaslitfest.com/2013/new-talent-showcase-danielle-boodoo-fortune/