Trick Vessels by Andre Bagoo: a review by Leshanta Roop

“But a trick vessel is never filled

  Without secrets”

As with all new and wonderful mysteries, Andre Bagoo’s first collection of poetry, Trick Vessels, requires one to have ample amounts of time and quiet to properly ponder and appreciate the complexity of ideals, both subtle and raw, that are presented within.  Quite like a trick vessel itself, the poems are cleverly crafted to astonish the reader as they all flow from this one collection in three discernible yet undeniably linked ways. Some are shown as clear, refreshing and deceptive as water; others are as intoxicating as the headiest of wines, fragrant and dark-coloured. Then there are those that are a delightfully eclectic blend of wine and water.

This is not to say that the poems are divided into three sections. The trick lies in the deliberate structure of the collection that allows the reader to simultaneously become familiarized with Bagoo’s unique style whilst being surprised, jarred, quieted and thoroughly seduced by the startling individuality and charm of each piece. You never know which liquid will flow next into your mind’s cup.

Andre Bagoo

With a modern and edgy writing style, Bagoo’s dedication to writing is evident in the crisp and powerfully mind-bending concepts and images that are presented in pieces like “The Unnamed Creature Said To Come From Water”, “Landslide”, the prose poem “To the Centre of the Earth”, and “Rooms” to name a few.  We also get a clear glimpse into the energy, love and undercurrent cynicism of urban life through achingly nostalgic poems such as “A Window at KFC, Frederick Street, Near to a Goal”, “Golden Grove”, “Carnival”, and “My Father’s Car.”

“How to Put a Cat into a Hypnotic Trance” is, on the surface, an adroitly subtle example of how we have come to rely on the internet for even the most unlikely of therapies, but even the most straightforward-seeming poem has multiple layers. Or perhaps the trick is that there aren’t? There is also a treasure of a poem the length of only one line that somehow manages to be both pert and pertinent to any aspect of life a reader could wish to apply it to, the mark of a true poet.

The poems not only exhibit Bagoo’s style but his extensive understanding of history, art, politics and philosophy. The more the reader pours into the book the more is revealed. The poems become more intricate, filled with small epiphanies like those found in “Prima Facie”, “Dribble Cup”, “Prefaces for Seasons” and the title poem itself, “Trick Vessels”:

“I’ve been gulping sea spray

Walking along this country road,

Where a jumbie bird promises little deaths, like fireflies,

Where the asphalt, peeled,

Exposes tiny canyons of silver and quartz,

And a pothole that leads

To the other side of the world.”

Poetry has always been a challenging and deeply rewarding field. It requires inordinately large amounts of passion and humility. Even more than that, it requires writers and readers to think above and beyond themselves whilst looking inwards all at once. It is in itself a curious and magnificent trick. A vessel for our deepest and shallowest musings; our feelings of wholeness, of being fragmented, of simply existing as we are, as more and as less: reading good poetry is its second greatest reward; the first, writing it. As for what a trick vessel actually is, I would suggest that you go find yourself a copy of the book and journey with Bagoo as he explores this fantastic, ancient hoax through really brilliant, unconventional poetry.

Leshanta Roop is a twenty-four year young Trinidadian writer currently working on building her skills in poetry and prose fiction. She has had work published in the 2007 anthology “Heart to Verse: Wodlines from UWI” and is a past participant of The Cropper Foundation Writer’s Residential Workshop (2010). You can follow her blog, Side Project, at

2 responses to “Trick Vessels by Andre Bagoo: a review by Leshanta Roop

  1. Pingback: Trinidad & Tobago: Review of Bagoo · Global Voices·

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