Tag Archives: St. Lucia

Mailbox – Saint Lucia – for the Record

I’m sure they have their complaints – and they did suffer the debilitating loss of their Folk Research Centre to fire earlier this year – but from where I’m sitting St. Lucia does a commendable job of researching and documenting its artistic resources, resource people, and accomplishments. I’ve written before about The Bibliography of St. Lucian Creative Writing Poetry, Prose, Drama by St. Lucian Writers 1948-2013, The Saint Lucian Literature and Theatre: an Anthology of Reviewsfor instance, and credited the work they’ve been doing in the area of documentation and research with funding from the state and private sector, and lamented the lack here – even as we do what we can here on the site – documenting what we can of our media history, art developments, and literary publications, to start, and in fact one of the ‘documents’ here on the site, a curated Caribbean lit anthology, was compiled by the man who is a common denominator of the various St.  Lucia publications – poet John Robert Lee.  I admit some low level envy that there is tangible support for this kind of work in St. Lucia as it suggests to me that the powers that be (and the private sector) understand that art and culture has real value (though, like I said, I’ve talked with enough of us artist types across the region to know that we all have our complaints).

All of that preamble to say, here they come with another one:

Author Index - book cover DRAFT 1 .jpg

Published by Papillote Press, it is due for release in early 2019. I’m told by John that March 1st 2019 is publication day. This is the original cover concept; watch this space for the final cover.

John goes out of his way to keep the community of Caribbean writers, inasmuch as we are a community, connected and informed; and because he does that for others, I thought it important to share this here.

Keep doing what you’re doing, St. Lucia.

As with all content (words, images, other) on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight,  Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). All Rights Reserved. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. You’re also invited to follow me on my author blog http://jhohadli.wordpress.com Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, with credit, are okay, lifting whole content (articles,  images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.


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From the Mailbox: John R. Lee Review of the Globe’s Staging of Walcott’s Omeros

This is late but I want to post it anyway. So.

By John R. Lee

On Tuesday May 3rd and Wednesday May 4th, Omeros came home to Saint Lucia. The dramatised version of Walcott’s major, 325 page, book-length poem of the same name (1990), was presented by Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. The venue was the National Cultural Centre. The two-actor masterpiece, and make no mistake, we watched a masterpiece of poetry and drama, featured St. Lucia’s Joseph Marcell and actress Joan Iyiola.

I say Omeros came home since the powerful descriptive-lyrical-narrative poetry of Sir Derek, set in Gros Islet, with iconic fishermen and villagers at the centre of the drama, resonated in St. Lucia, with St. Lucian audiences, in a way that is probably not possible in London or New York or other metropolitan centres. I would love to see this play put on in Gros Islet, in the open air, free of charge, to the public. It would have a liberating reception that would be unique. And I think that Walcott would feel a deep satisfaction that those of his home people for whom he writes recognised and received his work and portrayal of their lives, with a joy and satisfaction beyond real or imagined boundaries of class and education.

In case anyone had forgotten, we were reminded that Sir Derek Walcott, grown up on 17 Chaussee Road, is a major international poet. The Omeros poem /drama we witnessed showed a great and powerful imagination, an almost unbelievable skill with language, metaphor, image, ideas that compare with the great masters Shakespeare, Cervantes, Milton and others of that ilk. Walcott is a modern master (I state the obvious.) He is a master of the English language, of Caribbean/St. Lucian idiom; he is a painter and playwright and theatre director, so the lines so exactly rendered by the fine actors (and they, Shakespearean actors are very fine actors) carry a power of description/narrative/lyrical beauty/humour/compassion that can move one to tears. I was so moved.

Omeros carries stories of love; death both natural and tragic; healing and reconciliation; fractures of history; and racial and historical reconciliations that are effected through vision and a kind of magical realism. And for those who were not there, these epical narratives are shouldered by two excellent actors, presenting/performing the verse poetry of Nobel laureate Walcott.

The central characters, presented through role changes of Marcell and Iyiola, are Helene, Achille, Hector, Philoctete, Ma Kilman, an English couple resident in St. Lucia (the unnamed but definite setting) Denis and Maude, Seven Seas. The beach on Gros Islet, the No Pain Cafe, bedrooms, the gommier forests are among the settings. And, forgive my repetition, but these are drawn through the verse and the actors’ presentation of these through their dramatisation.

In Joseph Marcell, Walcott has found the perfect Walcottian actor. I would like to see him do other Walcott creations, eg Makak in Dream in Monkey Mountain, the devil/planter in Ti Jean, the schoolmaster in Remembrance and other now-famous Walcott creations. As well as doing readings of Walcott’s verse.

The director and adapter Bill Buckhurst deserves full credit for his faithful, empathetic, understanding, imaginative shaping and directing of Omeros. The original 325 page modern classic had to be framed in a two-hour drama. Choices had to be made (with the guidance of the poet/playwright) as to what of the comprehensive long poem would reflect its essence, its centrality. And they succeeded very well.

The set was simple, built on the floor in front of the NCC stage. A large straw mat was the performing space, two Japanese-type screens provided entrance to the performing area. On the stage, Tayo Akinbode provided a percussive musical accompaniment that underscored, sensitively, the lines and moments. Candles in lanterns provided the illumination, subtly supported by regular theatre lighting. The designer was Anthony Lamble. An attractive programme came with the ticket.

Anything to carp about? Not really. One may be tempted to wish that the African Joan Iyiola could have produced a French Creole/Caribbean accent more strongly, but fine actress that she is, her strong and moving performance more than compensated, for what is after all, just an understandable desire for a complete St. Lucian accented sound in such a complete St. Lucian poetic drama.
Congratulations are in order to the organisers of the 25th anniversary of the Saint Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival 2016, who brought us this great Walcottian drama. And to the Globe theatre who have made St. Lucia a regular stop in their tours. They came in other years with King Lear (Joseph Marcell in the lead) and Hamlet.

My heart’s desire is that many more St. Lucians, and many more of those portrayed in Walcott’s great love and healing narrative (with all the pain involved,) could have experienced it.

This review is reposted with its author’s permission. DO NOT Steal. You can excerpt and link back but nuh steal as though smadee nuh write um.

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New Anthology of St. Lucian poems and art launched

(I’m late posting this one but it’s still relevant)

The National Cultural Centre was the setting on Monday morning November 24th when the CDF launched its latest publication, “Sent Lisi: Poems and Art of Saint Lucia.”


The publication is dedicated to veteran St. Lucian writer McDonald Dixon, in celebration of his 70th birthday on October 1st.

It was described at the book launch as “an iconic collection”, which features the work of Nobel laureate Derek Walcott (his poems and art), Sir Dunstan St. Omer, the late Roderick Walcott and deceased icon Harry Simmons alongside the poems and art of younger St. Lucian writers and artists. Eighteen writers and seventeen artists are featured.


The anthology is selected and edited by Kendel Hippolyte, Jane King, John Robert Lee and Vladimir Lucien, St. Lucian authors with several publications between them. Their own work is recognised internationally and regionally.

Sent Lisi - editors and sponsors

In her foreword Jane King writes that the compilation “is an astoundingly flavourful book, a sensual collection that evokes not just the stories and landscapes of yesteryear, but somehow the sounds and smells of it as well.”

The Bank of St. Lucia, Lucelec and the Jubilee Trust Fund were sponsoring partners on this publication. The cover art is “The Blue Madonna” by Sir Dunstan St. Omer and the back cover art is by Raphael ‘Rinvelle’ Philip, who is also the book designer. The book was printed by The Document Centre.

Copies are on sale at the CDF and the Folk Research Centre.

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New Bibliography

I’ve been working on an Antiguan and Barbudan bibliography since 2005,  it’s a work in progress on this site; and as regular visitors to the site know, I also have genre-specific lists of Antiguan and Barbudan literary works (allowing users to search for Antiguan and Barbudan fiction, poetry, plays and screenplays, songs,  non fiction, journal publications, reviews and more). Similarly, in St. Lucia, they’ve put together a bibliography of local books, but have found support from the Cultural Foundation there to get it published. It’s done by the same person who did the selected bibliography of Caribbean works also posted on this site.

I think it’s great when the creative folks and the institutions meant to support the creative arts can partner like this. Here’s the official release re the St. Lucia project:

Bibliography of St. Lucian Creative writing 1948 – 2013.

A Bibliography of St. Lucian Creative Writing – Prose, Poetry, Drama, 1948 – 2013 is now available. It is compiled and edited by John Robert Lee, St. Lucian writer and librarian, with assistance from librarian Ms. Anna Weekes.

It is published by Mahanaim Publishing in association with the Cultural Development Foundation. The CDF will be publishing an ebook version of the bibliography.

This reference work will be an invaluable tool for those researching St. Lucian literature, for anyone interested in identifying works of St. Lucian literature and for writers who want to better understand the larger literary tradition and historical context of which they are a part.

While much has been written about Nobel laureate Derek Walcott abroad, this bibliography covers his writings in local papers, and reports by local newspapers and magazines of his activities here at home.

The 212 pg. illustrated book lists published and unpublished books by St. Lucians writing prose (fiction and non-fiction), poetry and drama. A substantial section lists reviews and articles on St. Lucian literature and other arts by both St. Lucian and non- St. Lucians. One section provides a listing of background readings in culture, language, history etc which throw light on the literature.

Lee began this work in the mid eighties and was commissioned by the CDF last year to complete this important historical reference book. In 2006, the CDF had published ‘Saint Lucian Literature and Theatre: an anthology of reviews’, compiled and edited by Lee and fellow St. Lucian writer, Kendel Hippolyte. The bibliography becomes a companion volume to this anthology. They will both be indispensable to students, readers and writers of Saint Lucian Literature.

The book was launched at the ACLALS Conference held in St. Lucia August 5-9, at the Sandals Grande Hotel. It is available at local bookstores.

Librarians are encouraged to purchase copies for the Reference Sections of their libraries.

The covers of the Bibliography and the Anthology feature the art work of St. Lucian painter Kenneth ‘Scotty’ Lawrence.



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Lee Launches New Book

“Have not yet got into the poem you sent but the first look is v/impressive and Quite some length!  Makes me want to ask you about yr religious Damascus, if i may put it that way.  in writing somewhere? or perhaps you’ve nvr specifically shared it?” –
This excerpt from an email to me from Kamau Brathwaite is the genesis of my new publication ‘Sighting and other poems of faith.’
That query in Kamau’s email got me thinking and I got a notepad and made some notes towards a prose ‘spiritual autobiography’, tracing my journey to a practising Christian faith.
At some point, in all this rumination, the idea came to gather my poems dealing specifically with faith from my published collections and some new, unpublished work. It did not take long to put a manuscript together since most of my poems are on my computer.

This is an excerpt from the blog of St. Lucian writer John Robert Lee explaining the genesis of his new collection Sighting and Other Poems of Faith. Read the full thing at his blog Mahanaim Notes.

Lee is part of the Wadadli Pen online family in that his bibliography of Caribbean books and writers is still among the most popular features on the site.

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