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Vahni Capildeo

Research Assistant

Oxford English Dictionary

HQ Phone:  +44 1865 353728

Email: v***@***.com


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Oxford English Dictionary

Great Clarendon Street

Oxford, Oxfordshire,OX2 6DP

United Kingdom

Company Description

The OED is the definitive record of the English language, featuring 600,000 words, 3 million quotations, and over 1,000 years of English....more

Background Information

Employment History

Lecturer In Creative Writing

Kingston University

Position In Creative Writing

Lecturer In Modern

Contributing Editor

Caribbean Review


The University of Sheffield


University of Warwick

International Advisory Board of the Journal of Indo-Caribbean Studies

Journal of Indo-Caribbean Studies

Member of the International Advisory Board



Old Norse literature


Web References(18 Total References)

Writers | exiled [cached]

Vahni Capildeo
Vahni Capildeo Capildeo's recent writing was inspired by her work for the Oxford English Dictionary. [...]

A competition for creative writers - Kingston University Press - Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences - Kingston University London [cached]

Roger Kirkpatrick, for the judges (Alison Baverstock, Vahni Capildeo, Maree Michel and Chair, Siobhan Campbell)
Vahni Capildeo Vahni Capildeo is a poet and memoirist who has worked as a creative writing professional at the Universities of Sheffield and Leeds and as a lexicographer at the Oxford English Dictionary after a DPhil from Oxford and a Cambridge Research Fellowship. A Contributing Editor for the Caribbean Review of Books, Vahni also acts as co-editor of TOWN, a public arts initiative linking global practitioners via the Internet.

Egg Box Publishing | Authors [cached]

Vahni Capildeo
Vahni Capildeo Vahni Capildeo (b. Trinidad,1973) has lived in the UK since 1991. Completing a doctorate in Old Norse literature (Oxford, 2001) and holding a Research Fellowship at Girton College, Cambridge, she has worked at the Oxford English Dictionary and as a crisis centre volunteer. She is a Contributing Editor and the UK agent and representative for the Caribbean Review of Books. She is also a Contributing Advisor to Black Box Manifold, the University of Sheffield e-zine, and a member of the International Advisory Board for the Journal of Indo-Caribbean Studies. She held a Teaching Fellowship in Creative Writing at the University of Leeds (spring semester 2009). Her poetry includes: books - No Traveller Returns (Salt, 2003), Person Animal Figure (Landfill, 2005), Undraining Sea (Egg Box, 2009), Dark & Unaccustomed Words (Egg Box, due 2010), Utter (in progress); anthologies - The Oxford Book of Caribbean Verse (OUP, 2005), In the Telling (Cinnamon, 2009), Identity Parade (Bloodaxe, due 2009). Capildeo also has a strong interest in prose writing, particularly non-fiction.

"IN MARCH 1994, on a beautiful spring evening as the lights were turning blue, I was crossing the road with my Shakespeare essay to hand it in to my tutor when a police car came down the middle of the road," poet Vahni Capildeo, 35, says as we sit inside a small café on Frederick Street, Port of Spain.Wearing red lipstick and a black long-sleeved blouse with delicate embroidered accents, Capildeo betrays little or no emotion as she tells the tale.One gets the feeling that she's done this all before; told the story of her ordeal to countless friends, relatives and acquaintances.But her well chosen words, which sound like a mantra as she speaks them, express all that need be expressed about the incident. "I call it my Oxford souvenir.I got little bits of the tarmac coming out of my head for the next two years," she says, as the rain pours outside.I ask her what grade she got for her essay."An ‘A'," she says, smiling."Apparently, there were blood stains on it."Miraculously, Capildeo escaped the incident without serious injury.And she will, tomorrow evening, be the featured guest of a reading and discussion session hosted by the Caribbean Review of Books at the Reader's Bookshop, St James.An acclaimed poet in her own right who lives and works in Britain, Trinidad-born Capildeo is the author of No Traveller Returns, a book-length poetry sequence, and Person Animal Figure, a series of dramatic monologues.Her forthcoming book The Undraining Sea is due for publication next year.Another book, the startling Dark and Unaccustomed Words, is to be published in 2010.Capildeo was born in June, 1973.She is a cousin of Nobel Laureate Sir VS Naipaul.Her father was children's poet Devendranath Capildeo.Her grandfather was Simbhoonath Capildeo, the elder brother of Rudranath Capildeo.Yet, it was only once, in 1984, that Vahni met Vidia. Capildeo describes her school days in Trinidad as being marked by a peculiar frustration."I studied at Dunn Ross Prep School," she says, "then, St Joseph's Convent, Port-of-Spain which I really hated because there was an ethos -which was very good—that people should help each other."But I was a lot quicker at some lessons.I'd spend 15 minutes in some lessons finishing the work and then I would have to spend 25 minutes helping people, which is a way to become uncharitable," Capildeo says. "I was very eager to learn and I wasn't getting pushed and that can be quite frustrating as a child.I was envious of my brother Kavi who was at St Mary's College.He was under a lot of pressure there getting pushed."But Capildeo wasn't good at everything."I usually failed Art and I was very bad at Geography and Biology.I was bad at anything where you had to draw.Even when I was at Montessori school the teacher laughed at my water jug when I tried to draw it." Capildeo would later read English Language and Literature at Oxford and then pursue a DPhil in Old Norse on a Rhodes Scholarship.For her, Old Norse was a perfect fit because it exposed her to literatures which had parallels with this region.In particular, the narratives of Iceland, in context of that land's relationship with mainland Europe, had almost colonial echoes.After graduating, Capildeo literally worked with words, becoming a research assistant with the Oxford English Dictionary.She left this job to pursue writing full-time in December 2007.And this year, she finished Dark and Unaccustomed Words, which will be published by the Eggshell Press in Britain. "What is dark and unaccustomed in one context is clear and bright in another," Capildeo explains of her newest collection's title. The book is a dazzling display of Capildeo's poetic process, which grounds itself in formalism but not pedantically so.Her analysis of images and ideas is rigorous, but this is accompanied by an elegant and musical use of metre and form which opens each piece to syncopated emotional effects. The poems aim to crystallise relationships of all kinds: between human beings and their masters, between man and the environment and between society and history.But it is the self, and its relationship with that vexing theme of the meaning of "home," which dominates, right down to the very last lines of the poem "About the Shape of Things" where Capildeo writes: "The theme of everyone/ is Nameless Bones…/And this morality of nameless bones/ begins to stir in me against my will/ to help—each flight home, every holiday/layered by plane wings flouting nameless bones."Capildeo explains her self-professed obsession with trees."There was a samaan tree in front of our garden in Port of Spain which was absolutely enormous," she says."Its roots were cracking up the driveway.I was quite afraid of it.I remember spending hours looking at it.I had a slightly warped relationship to that tree."A Conversation with Vahni Capildeo, hosted by the Caribbean Review of Books on Tuesday, starts at 7.30pm at the Reader's Bookshop, off Patna Street,St James.

Staff - School of Humanities - Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences - Kingston University London [cached]

Dr Vahni Capildeo
Lecturer in Creative Writing

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