Like a Tree, Walking by Vahni Capildeo

Like a Tree, Walking is another welcoming, disarming collection of poems from Vahni Capildeo

Book Review by Beth Cochrane | 01 Dec 2021
  • Like a Tree, Walking by Vahni Capildeo
Book title: Like a Tree, Walking
Author: Vahni Capildeo

Vahni Capildeo has always been a remarkable and singular poet, and Like a Tree, Walking is yet another triumph of their warm wit, direct vision, and almost spiritual connection to the page. One minute, the reader sits in Port of Spain, lulled and lullabied by a storm and the promise of no quakes in the rain, and the next, we are unwalking with them, being reminded that ‘fainting and being pulled up is a tighter and wider form of walking.’ ‘Slow it down,’ they say.

Capildeo’s work has always generously invited the reader to meet with the poet’s vision, pointing the reader toward perceptions and innovations that, until meeting with Capildeo’s poetry, have been elusive. Like a Tree, Walking, continues this artful tradition: while the poet often sets out in seemingly specific locations, the reader finds oneself able to journey from the side of the poet into their own experience, and back again, without any overly wilful interpretation.

Sometimes referred to as a ‘poet’s poet’, Capildeo’s latest work may be one for the poets, but let us not forget the joyous humour and gentle – but often dark – visions that can be found within the text by any reader. Drawing attention to the first poem, In Praise of Birds, we anti-worship: ‘In praise of talk being cheep, and in praise of men who shut up about birds.’ Who wouldn’t be pulled in by that line (and have a wee chuckle and sigh, too)?

The collection is welcoming, disarming, and – as its blurb commands – ‘defined by how it writes about love.’ The poetry within is to be celebrated, read, and reread by poets and not-poets alike.

Carcanet, out now, £11.99