Lasana M. Sekou

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Lasana M. Sekou at CTO awards ceremony, New York, 2007
Lasana M. Sekou reciting Caribbean poetry at Winternachten 2001, Netherlands

Lasana M. Sekou (born January 12, 1959) is a poet, short story writer, essayist, journalist, and publisher from the Caribbean island of Saint Martin.

Biography[edit]

Sekou has authored over 19 books and is considered one of the prolific Caribbean poets of his generation. Dr. Armando Lampe writes that "he’s considered the ‘Walcott’ of the Dutch Caribbean"[1] because of his prolific output, the range of subject matter and unique literary styling, which often includes the use of Caribbean Creole languages, Spanish, French, and Dutch — sometimes in one poem.

Reviewers have compared the poetry of Sekou to the works of a range of poets, including Aimé Césaire, Oswald Mtshali, Kamau Brathwaite, Dylan Thomas, e.e. cummings and Linton Kwesi Johnson. However, writes literary critic Howard Fergus in his book Love Labor Liberation in Lasana Sekou, "The voice that reaches us is sui generis, unique and Sekouesque."[2][3]

Sekou’s titles, such as the critically reviewed The Salt Reaper – poems from the flats[4][5] along with 37 Poems, Nativity, and Brotherhood of the Spurs have been required reading at Caribbean, North American, Italian, and United Kingdom universities. The author is himself a graduate of Howard University (MA, Mass Communication, 1984) and Stony Brook University (BA, Political Science/International Relations, 1982).

Awards and honors include an International Writers Workshop Visiting Fellow (Hong Kong),[6] a James Michener Fellow (University of Miami), a knighthood (The Netherlands),[7] Recognition for literary excellence in the service of Caribbean unity (Dominican Republic), Culture Time Literary Artist of the Decade, and the Caribbean Tourism Organization Award of Excellence.[8]

Sekou’s poetry and reviews of his works have appeared in Callaloo, The Massachusetts Review, Del Caribe, De Gids, Das Gedicht, Prometeo, World Literature Today, Caribbean Quarterly, Postcolonial Text, Jamaica Gleaner,[9][10] Caribbean Review of Books, Boundary 2,[11] Harriet, and Calabash.[12] His poems have been translated into Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Turkish, and Chinese. Sekou has presented papers and recited his poetry at cultural and literary conferences and festivals in the Caribbean, North and South America,[13] Africa, Europe[14] and Asia. His recitals usually draw large crowds. In St. Martin he is often invited by schools, cultural organizations, and NGOs to recite his poetry and appears regularly on radio and TV discussing cultural, socio-historical, literary, and political issues.

The author’s writings are used in high schools and in carnival stage presentations. He is the editor of National Symbols of St. Martin – A Primer and The Independence Papers, Vol. 1; and the producer of Fête – The first recording of Traditional St. Martin festive music by Tanny & The Boys.[15] Sekou can be heard reciting his own poetry on The Salt Reaper – Selected poems from the flats (Audio CD, 2009) with music produced by award-winning digital arts designer Angelo Rombley.[16][17]

Sekou founded House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP) in his dorm room at New York’s Stony Brook University in 1982, which has published his books (and others) since that time. He remains active as HNP’s projects director since establishing the small press in St. Martin in 1984. At House of Nehesi Publishers he secured the publication of literary luminaries and pioneers such as George Lamming,[18] Kamau Brathwaite,[19] Amiri Baraka,[20] Shake Keane, Chiqui Vicioso,[21][22] Howard Fergus, Marion Bethel, and the Palestinian author Nidaa Khoury, notable for her concept of post-monotheism. A host of first-time authors from St. Martin and other Caribbean countries and territories such as Ian Valz, Charles Borromeo Hodge, Jennie N. Wheatley, and Laurelle Yaya Richards have also been published by HNP.[23]

In 2003, Sekou co-founded the St. Martin Book Fair with Shujah Reiph, a leading cultural activist and president of the Conscious Lyrics Foundation.[24][25]

Sekou is an advocate for the independence of St. Martin, which is a colony of France and the Netherlands.[26][27] In the 1994 and 2000 consultative constitutional status referenda that were held in the Southern or Dutch part of St. Martin, Sekou was a leading organizer and speaker for the Independence option as a member of the Independence for St. Martin Foundation, of which his brother and political scientist Joseph H. Lake, Jr., was the founding president.

Works[edit]

Fiction[edit]

  • Love Songs Make You Cry (1989)
  • Brotherhood of the Spurs (1997, 2007)
  • Love Songs Make You Cry - Second Edition (2014)

Poetry collections[edit]

  • Moods for Isis – Picturepoems of Love & Struggle (1978),
  • For the Mighty Gods … An Offering (1982),
  • Images in the Yard (1983),
  • Maroon Lives … For Grenadian Freedom Fighters (1983),
  • Born Here (House of Nehesi, 1986),
  • Nativity & Monologues For Today (1988),
  • Mothernation – Poems from 1984 to 1987 (1991),
  • Quimbé … The Poetics of Sound (1991),
  • The Salt Reaper – Poems from the flats (2004, 2005),
  • 37 Poems (2005),
  • Nativity / Nativité / Natividad – Trilingual Edition (2010),
  • Corazón de pelícano – Antología poética de Lasana M. Sekou/Pelican Heart – An Anthology of Poems by Lasana M. Sekou Edited by Emilio Jorge Rodríguez (2010),
  • Musa desnuda – Selección, introducción y notas Emilio Jorge Rodríguez (2011),
  • Maroon Lives Tribute to Maurice Bishop & Grenadian Freedom Fighters. Revolution As Poetic Inspiration: Grenada in Maroon Lives (2013). Poetry collection by Lasana M. Sekou; with literary essay by Fabian Adekunle Badejo.

Pamphlet[edit]

  • Big Up St. Martin – Essay & Poem (1999)

Discography[edit]

  • The Salt Reaper – selected poems from the flats. Mountain Dove Records, 2009.

Producer[edit]

  • Tanny & The Boys. Fête – The First Recording of Traditional St. Martin Festive Music. Mountain Dove Records, 1992, 2007.

Edited publications[edit]

  • The Independence Papers – Readings on a New Political Status for St. Maarten/St. Martin, Volume 1 (1990),
  • Fête – Celebrating St. Martin Traditional Festive Music (1992, 2007),
  • National Symbols of St. Martin – A Primer (1996, 1997),
  • Chester York – Making of A Panman (1999),
  • Gassy – Champion Cyclist (1999),
  • St. Martin Massive! A Snapshot of Popular Artists (2000),
  • Where I See The Sun – Contemporary Poetry in St. Martin (2013).

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lampe, Armando. "Examen de libros por la aparición de Double Play." RMC, 10 (2000), 233-240
  2. ^ [1][dead link]
  3. ^ [2][dead link]
  4. ^ [3][dead link]
  5. ^ "The Salt Reaper : Poems from the Flats". Postcolonial.org. Retrieved 2013-11-05. 
  6. ^ "IWW". Iww.hkbu.edu.hk. Retrieved 2012-02-10. 
  7. ^ "Sekou Knighted". Nathanielturner.com. Retrieved 2012-01-16. 
  8. ^ "CTO ready to honour key players | News". Breaking Travel News. Retrieved 2012-01-16. 
  9. ^ "Jamaica Gleaner News - Salt of the earth finds voice - Friday | March 17, 2006". Jamaica-gleaner.com. Retrieved 2012-01-16. 
  10. ^ "Jamaica Gleaner News - Sekou writes with 'erotic power' - Sunday | November 5, 2006". Jamaica-gleaner.com. 2006-11-05. Retrieved 2012-01-16. 
  11. ^ Lasana Sekou (2006-06-20). "shiphole II winternights". Boundary2.dukejournals.org. Retrieved 2012-01-16. 
  12. ^ "Lasana M. Sekou : Mariposa". Nyu.edu. Retrieved 2013-11-05. 
  13. ^ "Eterno tiempo de siembra (Lasana Sekou, Saint Martin)". YouTube. 2007-06-05. Retrieved 2012-01-16. 
  14. ^ [4][dead link]
  15. ^ "The Salt Reaper – selected poems from the flats by Lasana M. Sekou". Houseofnehesipublish.com. Retrieved 2013-11-05. 
  16. ^ "Repeating Islands". Repeating Islands. Retrieved 2012-01-16. 
  17. ^ "Lasana M. Sekou | The Salt Reaper - Selected Poems From the Flats". CD Baby. Retrieved 2012-01-16. 
  18. ^ [5][dead link]
  19. ^ [6][dead link]
  20. ^ [7][dead link]
  21. ^ [8][dead link]
  22. ^ [9][dead link]
  23. ^ "Geoffrey Philp". Geoffreyphilp.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2012-01-16. 
  24. ^ "Experience St. Maarten/St. Martin - Arts & Culture". Experiencestmaarten.com. 1980-04-29. Retrieved 2012-01-16. 
  25. ^ "Welcome to House of Nehesi Publishers". Houseofnehesipublish.com. Retrieved 2012-01-16. 
  26. ^ [10][dead link]
  27. ^ "Lasana M. Sekou - Writers Unlimited". Winternachten.nl. 2005-03-02. Retrieved 2012-01-16. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Allen-Agostini, Lisa, “S’maatin poems.” The Caribbean Review of Books Feb. 2006. www.meppublishers.com
  • Badejo, Fabian Ade, “Negritude in the Forgotten Territories: Lasana Mwanza Sekou and Aimé Césaire.” Negritude: Legacy and Present Relevance. Eds. Isabelle Constant and Kahiudi C. Mabana. UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009.
  • Badejo, Fabian Adekunle, Salted Tongues – Modern Literature in St.Martin. St. Martin: House of Nehesi Publishers, 2003.
  • Balderston, Daniel and Gonzalez, Mike, eds., Encyclopedia of Latin American and Caribbean Literature, 1900–2003. New York: Routledge, 2004.
  • Brown, Stewart & McWatt, Mark, The Oxford Book of Caribbean Verse. London: Oxford University Press, 2005.
  • CDV – Antillen/Aruba: uit de gunst. Amsterdam: Boom Tijdschriften, Winter, 2005.
  • Fergus, Howard A., Love Labor Liberation in Lasana Sekou. St. Martin: House of Nehesi Publishers, 2007.
  • Ferguson, James, ed., Traveller’s Literary Companion – The Caribbean. London: In Print Publishing Ltd., Coleridge House, 1997.
  • Figueredo, D.H., ed., Encyclopedia of Caribbean Literature. Connecticut; London: Greenwood Press, 2006.
  • Gibbs, Jeanean, ed., Gurus and Griots, Poems and Poets of Africa, of America, and the Caribbean. Palm Tree Enterprises Inc., 1987.
  • Lampe, Dr. Armando, ed., The Future Status of Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles. Aruba: FUNDINI, 1994.
  • Las palabras pueden: Los escritorios y la infancia/ Words Are Powerful: Writers and Childhood. Panama: UNICEF, 2007.
  • Rutgers, Wim, ed., Tropentaal 200 jaar Antilliaanse vertelkunst. Amsterdam/Antwerpen: Uitgeverij Contact, 2001.
  • Stemmen van Overzee. Toekomstdromen. Amsterdam: KIT Publishers, 2004.
  • Smith, Wycliffe S., ed., Winds Above the Hills. St. Maarten Council on the Arts, 1982.
  • Smith, Wycliffe S., ed., Windward Islands Verse, A Survey of Poetry in the Dutch Windward Islands. 1981.
  • Writers of Post-colonial English Speaking Countries. Hong Kong: International Writers Workshop, 2004.

External links[edit]