Exploring the Indo-Caribbean Identity in ‘We Used to Waitress’ by Jihan Ramroop

A review by Natalia Surujnath for Brown Girl Magazine.

A Queens, New York native, Indo-Caribbean poet Jihan Ramroop takes us on a journey of culture, identity and womanhood in her debut poetry collection, “We Used to Waitress.” The collection relives Ramroop’s journey as an Indo-Caribbean girl growing up in America and touches on the depths of good and bad human experiences.

Before Ramroop introduces the table of content, she lets readers know the content includes alcohol, anxiety, cancer, colonialism, death, depression and much more. With that in mind, I decided to dive into the reading, cautious of the depths of each topic.

The collection is divided into four parts: Stay, Still, Stubborn and Suppose. From alcohol to anxiety to depression, the memoir showcases the depths of generational trauma to healing, a topic many brown girls could understand on a personal level.

The parts build off of Ramroop’s emotion. Dark places and victorious moments captivate readers. We experience Ramroop being vulnerable and unapologetic. With the various use of writing stylization from uppercase to lowercase sentences to sentences with no space, the author evokes the feeling within the readers to understand the anxiety she has felt. Such a unique writing style allows the reader to step away from the traditional idea of what poetry is to what poetry could truly express.

As I read through each part, one poem titled, “let abee call it inheritance” (let us call it inheritance) particularly stood out to me. The poem reflected the struggle of Indo-Caribbean identity and the hardship between keeping traditions alive or starting anew. Again Ramroop’s writing style, seen when she crosses out the word, emphasizes the internal struggles the Indian diaspora has placed on many people in determining who they are, which is still prevalent to this day.

For the full review follow this link.

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