Guyanese author Rajiv Mohabir reads newest book for first time in NYC

Host Liz Jaikaran at the book launch of “Whale Aria” by Rajiv Mohabir. The author is shown on the video screen.
Photo courtesy Oyate Group

The anti-poverty nonprofit Oyate Group on Oct. 13 hosted the launch of 2022 second-place Guyana Prize for Literature winner Rajiv Mohabir’s newest book, “Whale Aria,” a collection of poems that explore themes of immigration, queerness and race in a post-colonial and capitalist world through the examination of humpback whales.

Though Rajiv originally planned to attend in person, Oyate Group said he was unable to join “due to a COVID-19 infection” and performed his live reading of “Whale Aria” over Zoom instead.

“This was the first time this piece was read to a live audience in New York City,” said the Oyate Group in a statement.

“Oyate remains a transformational organization, persistently seeking ways to connect and collaborate with kindred spirits. Rajiv Mohabir consistently demonstrates why he is a titan in the Indo-Caribbean literary landscape,” said Jason Autar, COO of Oyate Group.

Guyanese author Rajiv Mohabir reads his newest book, "Whale Aria.”
Guyanese author Rajiv Mohabir reads his newest book, “Whale Aria.” Photo courtesy Oyate Group

“While he navigates his own journey, he continues to create space for uplifting others on their respective paths,” he added. “Hosting the accomplished Liz Jaikaran was indeed an honor, as she shared her deeply inspirational and moving words, explaining the intricacies of the Indo-Caribbean experience. Lastly, I’d like to extend a special shout-out to Will Depoo for co-hosting and making all of this possible. Oyate is profoundly grateful for such a memorable evening.”

The Oyate Group said that evening began with a reception catered with drinks and food from Harlemite Peruvian Cuisine.

Guyanese poet Will Depoo began the event by reading selected poetry pieces focused on immigrant rights, women’s rights and his Guyanese heritage.

One important element he shared from his poetry included an exploration of his nanny’s masala brick, which came from an old factory in Guyana that she brought with her to the United States.

Liz Jaikaran, a New York-based author and lawyer whose work has appeared in Huffington Post, Brown Girl Magazine, Bruk Out media and Defunkt Magazine, among others, shared excerpts from her book “Waiting for a Name” – titled after the island from Guyana where her family is from, Wakenaam, which translates to the eponymous title of her book.

Her poems focused on family, her neighborhood and wisdom passed down through generations of women in her family.

Autar, who originates from the Berbice region of Guyana, introduced Rajiv Mohabir, author of “The Taxidermist’s Cut,” “The Cowherd’s Son,” “Cutlish” and his memoir, “Antiman: A Hybrid Memoir.”

About Oyate Group

Oyate Group is a nonprofit organization with the mission to alleviate poverty by creating sustainable and holistic solutions that empower underserved communities all across New York City.

Oyate Group said it works to create access to healthcare, alleviate hunger, invest in the growth of small businesses and inspire youth to better themselves and their city.

Founded in 2020 by Tomas Ramos, the organization’s programs include the Bronx Rising Initiative.