"Creole Gang" by Rooplall Monar
He began writing in the mid-1960s and came to notice in 1967 with a prize-winning poem, 'The Creole Gang'. His early poems were published in New World, Kaie, Voices and various anthologies. His first published collection, Meanings (1972) begins his exploration of the consciousness of the Indo-Guyanese 'divided by horizon's edges, yet/ telling of no other worlds/ but mine'. His second collection, Patterns (1983) continued the creative but painful potential of this limbo consciousness, asking "Who am I/between buried copper trunks/voices in the cemeteries?/Oh whom am I/between a dying consciousness,/a growing vision."
Monar also began to write short stories, encouraged by his blood brother, the folklorist and poet Wordsworth McAndrew, though it was almost another ten years before they saw publication as the classic Backdam People first published in 1985 and in a new edition in 1987. After Backdam People, Peepal Tree brought out a collection of Monar's poems, Koker (1987), followed by his novel, Janjhat (1989) which explores the tempestuous first year of a marriage under the interfering pressure of the boy's mother. The move from estate to village life is explored in the short stories of High House and Radio which sees the backdam people leave their logies for their new high houses and the coherent Indianness of the estate challenged by the new visions brought by the radio, politicians, and the pursuit of more individual lives.
Since then Monar has written two works of popular fiction, Ramsingh Street and Tormented Wives (1999). In 1987 he was awarded a special Judges' Prize for his contribution to Guyanese writing.
Baling and throwing
among green canes from rusty punts,
their sweated faces
show how many days and nights have passed
between cane roots and black streams,
sunburnt trashes and parched earth,
wearied days and restless reality.
Their hands and limbs are but fragments
that walk and bathe,
when sun shines, rains fall
and drivers shout.
Who can tell when midday meets
their rest - they eat, they talk?
Their limbs cry and hearts burn.
Is this not the century of dreams,
of tales told by ancestors
of a faith told by life?
Again and again they will bale and throw
curse and rest among green canes
and black earth, wishing, wishing. . .