Through serendipitous pandemic events, Keeron Isaac was redirected from a career in medicine into a full-fledged career as a poet and published author.
To date, he has written and published two collections: Poet Tree, which was published independently in November 2021, and I Am The Tree, which the National Library and Information System (Nalis) published in December 2022.
The 28-year-old former Hillview College student described both as "literary cornucopias of culture and diaspora."
Isaac was a semi-finalist in this year's First Citizens National Poetry Slam competition.
His debut collection, Poet Tree, explores love, family, growth, reflections through nature, Trinidad and Tobago's rich culture and faith.
Isaac said while the world describes success in dollars and cents, he has found it in becoming an author and publishing his books. He always had a knack for writing and often helped students with their homework, he said.
When the pandemic struck, the pre-med graduate was in the process of transferring between medical schools to further his education, however, those applications were not processed.
Isaac also looked after his grandfather who later died from prostate cancer.
In his second offering, I Am The Tree, Issac said he dived "even deeper into culture." He highlights TT's folklore, the origins of traditional mas, and wetland conservation.
"This book was inspired by Moko Poui, a design conceptualised by the creative director of Lost Tribe, Valmiki Maharaj. Seeing a video of Moko Poui walking gave me chills. I saw a vision of the culture moving and walking forward.
"A lot of my writing is also based on the banyan tree, which is described as the tree 'that lives for centuries.' So, the two themes definitely coincided."
He said this book pays tributes to local folklore legends such as Mama D'Leau, Papa Bois, Gang Gang Sara and traditional mas characters like sailors, dame Lorraines and baby dolls, and others.
Isaac said he was also fortunate to be able to speak with various veterans associated with Carnival characters like Keith Simpson – sailor mas, Junior Bisnath – moko jumbie, Tracey Charleau-Sankar, Orchid Matthis and Natalie Duncan –baby doll and June Sankar – dame Lorraine.
"I also spoke with many other wonderful people who have been carrying the torch of our culture for years. These conversations traversed beautiful branches of connection and culture. I did not want to stop there.
"My friend Antonia Figaro created the graphic cover work for I Am The Tree, which depicts me becoming a mangrove tree, to be exact, with our national birds beside me."
This "powerful image," the author said, felt like it belonged on merchandise.
He has since launched the I Am The Tree Umbrella collection and plans to release a hand-fan collection soon.
"We would love to highlight different prints which also are based on different poems or stories within the book. I see these umbrellas and fans as not only extensions of the book but of our culture itself," Isaac said.
"I would like to see them on international stages. For example, I can see our beauty queens using them in pageants or persons living abroad having a taste of home."
The umbrellas are available through email@example.com, Instagram, Facebook at PoetTreeWorld or through the Unqueue app.
"Most exciting, pretty soon they will be able to ship internationally through the Carib Shopper site, which is a hub for locally-created merchandise to be shipped to the US and Canada."
"We are truly the impetus to carry our culture forward, and I hope that this collection will remind us of just that. It should serve as the centripetal force to connect or reconnect anyone with our rich Trinbago heritage."
Poet Tree and I Am The Tree are both available on Amazon, Kindle or Digical Canopi and at local bookstores Paper Based Bookshop at Alcazar Street, St Clair, and Scribbles and Quills, Chaguanas.