The Return of Questel & Huggins

He left behind a small but acclaimed body of work, and a sense of enormous literary potential only partly fulfilled. With his three books long out of print, Questel’s body of work has gradually faded into obscurity.

But the publication of a new edition of his Collected Poems promises to revive Questel’s reputation for a new generation, and return him to his place among the key Caribbean poets of the 1970s and 80s.

The new edition of Questel’s Collected Poems, to be published by Peepal Tree Press as part of its Caribbean Classics series, will be launched at the 2016 NGC Bocas Lit Fest.

On Saturday at 4pm, Gordon Rohlehr will speak alongside Peepal Tree publisher Jeremy Poynting, Earl Lovelace, John Robert Lee and Vahni Capildeo in celebration of this overdue milestone.

His epic peom Hiroona takes the form of over 9,000 lines of rhyming verse to tell the story that draws from both official history and local, oral legends collected by those who fought on both sides.

It is considered the first epic poem in the English-speaking Caribbean but has been unavailable to a general readership until now, published by UWI Press and edited by Desha Osborne.

Osborne will take part in a panel discussion “When History Meets Fiction” on Friday at 3pm, chaired by Professor Bridget Brereton, who says the poem derives its importance from having been written “long before the emergence of ‘West Indian Literature’ in the 1930s“, and it “reflects the kind of literary and cultural work which existed in Trinidad and elsewhere in the late 19thC, yet it is unique in its ambition, poetic form and length.” And Hiroona is of particular historical significance given that the Black Caribs (the Garifuna) populated the Caribbean coast of Central America after expulsion by the British, and came to Trinidad, too, after the eruption of Soufri?re in 1812.

Copies of both Hiroona and Questel’s Collected Poems will be available for sale from participating booksellers at the NGC Bocas Lit Fest, which runs started on April 23, and the programme includes well over one hundred events, from readings and discussion panels to films and workshops. The full schedule is available online at


"The Return of Questel & Huggins"

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