Lasana Sekou and Kendel Hippolyte
Open Bocas Lit Fest Poetry Readings in Trinidad
PORT OF SPAIN,
Trinidad (May 6, 2012)—Our spirited moderator Rose-Ann
Walker reminded us as we settled in for this, the first
poetry reading of Bocas 2012, that both Kendel Hippolyte
and Lasana Sekou are studied at the secondary school
level. The youth of our Caribbean islands are actively
reading the work of both these men, and as I listened
and observed, I couldn’t help but be reassured at the
exceptional quality of regional poetry to which
potential budding talent is exposed.
Hippolyte, a St.
Lucian poet and playwright (and one of this year’s
poetry judges), read poems that sounded like entire,
compact islands of sound and thought, lushly populated
worlds unto themselves. A gleefully self-confessed ‘jiver’,
his offering was panoramic—there were poems on the
frustration of loss sitting side by side with cheekily
derisive snubbing of overvaulting academia. There was
work that interrogated the heart of a poem’s necessity.
There was work that reminded, that underscored the
infinite possibilities of the Caribbean landscape, the
Caribbean imagination. In fifteen minutes or less, I got
the impression that I’d been reading Kendel Hippolyte my
entire life (and I will be, most assuredly, from this
Breathing his first
piece unapologetically and vividly into life, St.
Martinian poet Lasana Sekou took to the AV Room’s
aisles… to its platform, to the tops of its chairs!
Nothing about his rendition seemed in the slightest bit
affected. There was, as my friend Leshanta and I
discussed afterwards, such honesty and commitment to
storytelling, to craft, in Sekou’s display, that we
wondered if anyone could mistake it for posturing. His
words rang out with the rhythmic thrall one typically
associates with spoken word, but each line painstakingly
hewn, each word a contemplation. When describing the
rendition, tour de force feels like the only acceptable
discussion was predictably lively, seasoned with
considerations of the symbiotic relationship between
poetry and performance. Hippolyte pointed out that all
readings of poetry are, in essence,
performance-based, with some performances
manifesting themselves as far more glittery
and bombastic than others.
It occurs to me
that the more I hear poets talk, the more I come to the
reinforced understanding that in poetry, perhaps above
all other fictive genres, the rules are never hard and
Listening to the
audience interact with Hippolyte and Sekou reminded me
that this talk was no exception. Poems can, both poets
agreed, take on different reading shapes and forms,
depending on the mood, the alignment of emotion,
circumstance, venue and consideration that shape each
particular reading… and there is not, I hasten to add, a
blessed thing wrong with this.
Are you surprised
that the first poetry session of Bocas 2012 was plenty
vibes? Ah, you shouldn’t be. When you bring together two
outstanding word-makers, and a roomful of people eager
to interact with them, well, that creates a certain kind
of poetic magic all its own.
Ramlochan is a literary critic and expert in English
literature and Spanish from Trinidad & Tobago.
The 2nd annual Bocas Literary Festival of Trinidad &
Tobago is receiving high praise from the media,
publishers, writers, and audiences in the twin-island
state and the region. The ‘Lit Fest’ is also the ‘home’
of the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, which
awards US$10,000 to the winning writer—an unprecedented
purse for ‘book writing’ in the region. Over 80 invited
writers, performers, scholars, and other participants
took part in Bocas 2012
www.bocaslitfest.com/authors.html. The country’s
National Gas Company (NGC) proudly and generously
sponsored the book fair (April 26-29).
* * * * *
The Frock & Other Poems
The use of the nation’s
mother language, “the way we speak naturally on both parts
of our island, is the sweetness to the ear and the heart of
Miss Yaya’s spoken word, storytelling, and talks about St.
Martin’s folkways,” said Jacqueline Sample, president of
House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP). Richards had completed
working on The Frock with HNP at the time of her death at
age 55, on May 26, 2010 – about four months before the book
was published. The plan to launch the
book on the UNESCO-declared day in 2011 came out of meetings
between the culture department, the publisher, and Yaya’s
family representatives Priscille Figaro, Adrienne Richards,
and Laurellye Benjamin.
“We need to recognize
our artists like Yaya who are working so hard for our people
and our identity,” said Dormoy. “It’s an honor to be
involved with this book as part of Yaya’s legacy that can
live on, and to launch The Frock in connection with the
International Mother Language Day,” said Dormoy.
* * * * *
Life on Mars
By Tracy K. Smith
Tracy K. Smith, author of Life on Mars has been selected as the winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. In its review of the book, Publishers Weekly noted the collection's "lyric brilliance" and "political impulses [that] never falter." A New York Times review stated, "Smith is quick to suggest that the important thing is not to discover whether or not we're alone in the universe; it's to accept—or at least endure—the universe's mystery. . . . Religion, science, art: we turn to them for answers, but the questions persist, especially in times of grief. Smith's pairing of the philosophically minded poems in the book’s first section with the long elegy for her father in the second is brilliant." Life on Mars follows Smith's 2007 collection, Duende, which won the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, the only award for poetry in the United States given to support a poet's second book, and the first Essence Literary Award for poetry, which recognizes the literary achievements of African Americans. The Body’s Question (2003) was her first published collection.
* * * * *
The Gardens of Democracy: A New American Story
of Citizenship, the Economy, and the Role of Government
By Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer
American democracy is informed by the 18th century’s most cutting edge thinking on society, economics, and government. We’ve learned some things in the intervening 230 years about self interest, social behaviors, and how the world works. Now, authors Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer argue that some fundamental assumptions about citizenship, society, economics, and government need updating. For many years the dominant metaphor for understanding markets and government has been the machine. Liu and Hanauer view democracy not as a machine, but as a garden. A successful garden functions according to the inexorable tendencies of nature, but it also requires goals, regular tending, and an understanding of connected ecosystems. The latest ideas from science, social science, and economics—the cutting-edge ideas of today—generate these simple but revolutionary ideas: (The economy is not an efficient machine. It’s an effective garden that need tending. Freedom is responsibility. Government should be about the big what and the little how. True self interest is mutual interest.
* * * * *
National Symbols of St. Martin—A Primer
By Lasana M. Sekou
hard cover book, a primer about St.
Martin’s culture, historical
personalities and natural environment,
is listed on the US government
department’s Bureau of
Administration website. “We think this
is a good thing to share with the St.
Martin people,” said Sekou. “In fact,
House of Nehesi is firstly thankful to
the St. Martin people for continuing to
read, enjoy and study this book.
“Having National Symbols listed as
recommended reading in the IPS section
of the US State Department adds to the
venues where folks abroad can be put in
touch with original material about St.
Martin and the St. Martin people.” The
material from the book continues to be
used for popular events such as
carnival, for research by scholars, as
teaching material in schools, and for
presentations by government and tourism
departments, churches and civic groups.
* * * * *
The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
* * *
Ancient African Nations
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Negro Digest /
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* * * * *
The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Only a Pawn in Their Game
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for
George Jackson /
* * *
The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
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posted 7 May 2012