Cuban scholar’s book about St. Martin writer launched in Barbados; Italian gets Ph.D.on Lasana Sekou

While all interested eyes here were on the St. Martin Book Fair, visiting authors, and new books launched on St. Martin between the end of May and the first two weeks of June, there were other news brewing afar about the island’s writings, said Jacqueline Sample, president of House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP). 

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Firstly, the Cuban scholar Emilio Jorge Rodríguez has just published a new anthology of poems and literary criticism of the poetry of the St. Martin author Lasana M. Sekou.

Rodríguez wants to introduce Sekou to the Hispanic world with the Spanish and English book, Corazón de pelícano – Antología poética de Lasana M. Sekou / Pelican Heart – An Anthology of Poems by Lasana M. Sekou Edited by Emilio Jorge Rodríguez.

The 428-page book includes selected poems from the 11 poetry collections by Sekou. Each poem is in both English and Spanish.

The anthology has a critical introduction and research notes by Rodríguez, who also selected the poems representing developments in Sekou’s writings over the last 32 years, said Sample.

Published by HNP, the book was launched at the Caribbean Studies Association Conference in Barbados on May 27, 2010, said Sample.

Then news reached St. Martin that the Italian Caribbeanist scholar Sara Florian completed her Ph.D. study on Lasana Sekou’s work. Dr. Florian is now the newest expert on the literature of the St. Martin author.

Florian’s doctoral thesis is called "Contemporary West Indian Poetry: a ‘Creole’ Aesthetics?" Her postgraduate degree was obtained at Cà Foscari University of Venice. The dissertation was defended in April 2010 at the Faculty of Foreign Language and Literatures – one of the oldest in Italy.

In the comparative study Dr. Florian positions Sekou’s work in relation to his contemporaries such as Merle Collins (Grenada), David Rudder (Trinidad), AJA (Barbados), Kendel Hippolyte (St. Lucia), and younger writers like Joan Andrea Hutchinson (Jamaica), along with senior poetry giants such as Shake Keane (St. Vincent) and Martin Carter (Guyana).

Dr. Florian, like Rodríguez, seems particularly fascinated by Sekou’s use of salt as a poetic metaphor and historic motif with links to the Great Salt Pond, said Sample.

Chapter 9 of the thesis is entitled "Lasana Mwanza Sekou (1959 – ) The Aesthetics of Salt and Sugar." Dr. Florian’s thesis is in English. The extensive appendixes include Florian’s interviews with the likes of Mutabaruka, Gordon Rohlehr, Kenneth Ramchand, Rhoda Arrindell, and professors Edward Baugh, Maureen Warner-Lewis, and Carolyn Cooper.

As for the Rodríguez anthology of Sekou’s poetry books from 1978 to 2010, Pelican Heart / Corazón de pelícano, that is available at Van Dorp and Arnia’s bookstores, and at,, and

The book cover design by Sundiata Lake incorporates the painting "Lovers Garden" by Ras Mosera.