Janet Naidu -Poet

Janet Naidu was born in Covent Garden, Guyana, a rural village close to the sugar plantations of Farm and Diamond.  Janet comes from humble beginnings—her father worked as a cane cutter and her mother sold greens in the village and in the market place.  She, along with her seven siblings assisted their parents in earning extra income.

Janet has made Canada her home since 1975. In 1973, two of her poems appeared in a small booklet called Heritage. After writing sporadically over the years, her first collection of poems, Winged Heart (1999) was short-listed for the Guyana Prize for Literature, poetry category.  Her other two collections include Rainwater (2005) and Sacred Silence (2009). Her poems capture themes of uprooted movements, nostalgic memories, resettlement, feminism, resilience and survival. Her writings also include essays of cultural and historical themes. Janet Naidu (4)
Her poetry and writings have appeared in news media, online publications, anthologies, referenced in books on Indo Caribbean themes and in the Women’s Journal of the University of the West Indies.

Janet obtained a BA from the University of Toronto and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of London, UK.


Janet, thanks for taking the time to do this interview for my readers. I’d like to focus on your collection Rainwater, in addition to your writing, in general.

Q. At what age did you start to write? What do you remember writing about? Does that writing still exist today?

A. As a teenager I sold greens in the village with my mother and had a notepad to write down credit given to the villagers. I used to also make little sketches and writings at the back pages when I waited for people to purchase items in our baskets. But most significantly, I started writing to pen pals around the world after posting my name and address in a pen pal magazine. I had pen pals from New Zealand, England, Germany, Japan, Pakistan, USA and many other countries. It was during this time, I entered into writing to pen pals around the world, telling them about my family life at home, and life in Guyana. I used to get creative, talking about simple things in the village, like when the sugar cane would burn and the cane dust would come through our windows. I made it sound exciting. Living in Canada, I am often taken back to that time when I was care free and thoughts of the natural world flowed so greater then. This reflection continues to influence my writing.

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Children Of The World

Tomorrow’s citizens of the world. Innocent and still insulated from the ravages of time and the seven deadly sins, they will yet determine the future.

[NOTE: ALL PHOTOGRAPHS ARE COPYRIGHT © KEN PUDDICOMBE. WRITTEN PERMISSION REQUIRED FOR USE OF THESE IMAGES.]

 

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Agra. INDIA. The Age of Innocence.

 

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Native Village. PANAMA. “Look at me dad. I can balance.”

 

 

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Katmandu. NEPAL. Don’t Ask For Whom The Bell Tolls.

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Katmandu. NEPAL. “You can’t see it. But I take after my mum, who’s awesome.”

 

 

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Siem Reap. CAMBODIA. Taking the slow boat to somewhere.

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Ho Chi Minch City. VIETNAM. Dancing To a Different Beat.

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Katmandu. Nepal. “So, that’s how it’s done!”

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Varnasi. INDIA. “Can’t stop. Late for school.”

mip

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC. Sunshine on my shoulders.

On The Streets Of Mumbai

ON THE STREETS OF MUMBAI
MUMBAI, INDIA: OCT 2010
Mumbai, India’s largest city, has a population of sixteen million people crowded into a 603 Square Kilometer area, making it the second most densely populated city in the world. Twenty three thousand people occupy a square kilometer. Compare it to Toronto with a population of two and a half million and a density of 793 people!
Mumbai, India’s richest city, called the City Of Dreams, also has close to one million homeless people. Thirty-five thousand of these are street children. This little girl in the picture is one of them.
I came across her early one morning as we were heading out to the airport and our car was stopped at an intersection. Families have lived for generations on the streets, establishing and colonizing their own section of the pavement where children are born and raised. With just the barest necessities of life most of them know no other existence. Pedophiles prey on the weaker ones and gangsters offer drugs to lure children to a life of begging. For them there is no Slum Dog Millionaire ending!
Time and again, I have revisited this picture and can’t help but wonder about the little girl’s circumstances. Is she doomed to the same less than marginal existence that her parents have survived on for years –a life of misery and deprivation? And yet, despite the missing front teeth, the dirty pants and shirt, I marvel at the quiet dignity that seems to pervade her features: She seems to be taking great pleasure from the simple act of washing her face that morning.