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Sekou writes with the agonistic history of the colony at his fingertips and sings

and evokes great sweeping rhythms to dislodge the weight and torment of that past



Books by Lasana M. Sekou

37 Poems / Brotherhood of the Spurs / Big Up St. Martin  / Born Here Love Songs Make You Cry

Mothernation: Poems from 1984 to 1987  /  National Symbols of St. Martin / Quimbé: Poetics of Sound

The Salt Reaper: Poems from the Flats

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Sekou Writes with "Erotic Power"

A review by Mary Hanna

The Salt Reaper – Poems from the Flats


'no matter the virus of wolves we

have known

go on out

find the future, drive it home, as if it

was a lost lamb.

('My Land')

Lasana M. Sekou is the pen name of H. H. Lake who was born in Aruba, in 1959. Sekou was raised in his paternal homeland, half-French and half-Dutch St. Martin, and he writes impassioned performance poetry calling for independence. In that sense, he is in something of a time-warp, drawing on the great nationalistic voices of George Lamming and Kemau Brathwaite, and also the fluid, identity-building voice of Aime Cesaire. Sekou has been knighted by Queen Beatrix of Holland for his extraordinary contribution to St. Martin culture and heritage, and he enjoys great popularity in his home country.

He is the guiding light of the House of Nehesi Publishers, among many other contributions to his society. Sekou's poetry is translated into many languages and he has performed widely throughout the Caribbean, the U.S.A., South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. Sekou's work is studied in universities, performed by high school students, and has been published in important journals such as Callaloo and The Caribbean Writer. He has received many awards and honours and is the author of ten books of poetry, monologues, and short stories.

The Salt Reaper, Sekou's most recent offering, is made up of 18 poems from the decade of the nineties and about 40 new poems from the current decade. An informative introduction by Hollis 'Chalkdust' Liverpool and some intriguing photographic illustration are included in this text. They serve to cushion the provocative and intense voice that issues from these pages and lend perspective to the call for nationhood. In 'No Love Poems', Sekou writes:

There will be no love poems tonight . . .

becausein we are not permitted

to plant a new banner of colors

in the nipples of the future

to wave at the present for all to see

the many fine features of Our Oneness.

Sekou's multi-creole vocals are subtle, but ever-present ('becausein') and his words insist on oralitythey sing the nation off the page and into being. He has followed the example set by Brathwaite and writes with visual text that leaps off the page:

A-Buyaka!Buyaka! Becausin I am a bomb of poison.

Buyaka! Buyaka! Festering a plague for treason.

A-buyaka! Say dying fish, say mangrove fringe,

Say diving pelican.

Buyaka, and retaliate, Salt Pond! Re-ta-li-aaaaaaaaaaaaate!

('Great Salt Pond Speaks')

The 'Salt Pond' is a central image, evoking hard slave labour in the St. Martin heritage 'Through the briny ages'. In it was 'anchored your sweating ebon brow under a crown of thorns'. Sekou writes with the agonistic history of the colony at his fingertips and sings and evokes great sweeping rhythms to dislodge the weight and torment of that past. His poems are full of allusion to what has come from the past; therefore he calls on his listeners/readers to go forward to fetch the future and bring it cleanly to the present. It is a way of bringing a new nation into being. In 'The Blockade Next Time', he says:

we are already standing on the


where we are bound to perish or

mold this nation

in our very own image

for freedom not paid for is forfeit.

Sekou writes with erotic power about the stages of development of his political vision. He doesn't pull punches. For example, in 'Freedom', he calls:

Freedom is no gray stone drag


she is my bitch to keep

jealous of her like sickness

wuk fo'she like dog

she is the river all men straddle down valleys to claim

He writes with equal passion about the terrible scourge of drug addiction that prevents many a man from claiming his true heritage:

If you don't look out I'm stifling stink the noseholes

of your home


Deny me for shame and

deny me in the haste and chase of the beast . . .

deny me and eat this death to emptyfulness.

('Doped up Roughings')

Instead of the demeaning emptiness of drug dealings, Sekou calls for proud identity to rise and claim its heritage. In the Darkman (dm) poems he makes this explicit:

who fears the dark man

his dark face

his eyes darkened by sun&sorrow&sights

of his stellar tomorrows

a darkly cast feast

his own civilisation?

Source:  Sunday | November 5, 2006

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The Salt Reaper – Poems from the Flats

By Lasana M. Sekou


GREAT BAY, St. Martin (November 2004)—The Salt Reaper – Poems from the flats, by the St. Martin poet/author Lasana M. Sekou, was launched here on November 6, 2004. This is the ninth book of verse from one of the Caribbean’s most dynamic poets.

What is sure to add fire to some seasoned poetry is an introduction to the book by Dr. Hollis “Chalkdust” Liverpool, the 2004 Calypso King of Trinidad and Tobago.

In The Salt Reaper , writes Chalkdust, Sekou is “still a fresh mind in a fresh poetic garment, spilling out his vision for the birth of a new St. Martin, a new Haiti, a new Caribbean, indeed a new civilization.” The internationally acclaimed kaisonian is himself an author, music educator, and associate professor of history at the University of the Virgin Islands.

Sekou’s poems range in topics from the 1990 heavy equipment owners protest that blockaded the Caribbean island of St. Martin, to Dutch immigration, constitutional status searches by the remaining colonies in the Caribbean, Haitian solidarity, fellowship with Cuba, sons and fathers, the historical “stain” of St. Martin’s Great Salt Pond, crisis in Kigali, and war and torture in Iraq.

The signature piece of the book is “Cradle of the nation,” a poem that is “magisterial” said Dr. Carolyn Cooper, literature professor at University of the West Indies, Jamaica. Dr. Cooper flew to St. Martin to deliver the address at the book launch, attended by over 200 people at the Philipsburg Jubilee Library.

Sekou’s love poems this time around are fewer than usual. What is completely unusual is the impression that these sensual love poems are describing women in their 30s and 40s, as opposed to the ofttimes lusty poems of his earlier collections that were clearly romancing younger women. Chalkdust does the unusual here too by linking the love poems to an element of history and “identity.”

The Salt Reaper  introduction opens with Chalkdust pointing to the “nourishing intellectualism and stimulating thoughts conveyed by the unique style and dripping-with-knowledge lines of the poet.”

What might also interest St. Martiners and the poet’s generation in the Caribbean and beyond is how the master calypsonian links Sekou to the likes of his seniors George Lamming, Rene Depestre, Paulo Freire, Edouard Glissant, CLR James, and Frantz Fanon, said Jacqueline Sample, president of House of Nehesi, the book’s publisher.

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



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Yvette’s cookbook is a 2011 bestseller

GREAT BAY, St. Martin (July 31, 2011)—It’s official. It’s a bestseller! From Yvette’s Kitchen To Your Table – A Treasury of St. Martin’s Traditional & Contemporary Cuisine by Yvette Hyman has sold out, according to House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP). In a record seven weeks after its June 2011 release here, less than 80 copies of the cookbook are left in bookstores and with the author’s family representatives charged with distribution, said Jacqueline Sample, HNP president. The decision on whether to reprint a new batch of From Yvette’s Kitchen  … lies with the family of the late award-winning chef, said the publisher.“We are very thankful to the people of St. Martin for embracing Yvette’s cookbook. The visitors to our island also bought many copies of this beautifully designed book of the nation’s cuisine,” said Sample.From Yvette’s Kitchen  is made up of 13 chapters, including Appetizers, Soups, Poultry, Fish and Shellfish, Meat, Salads, Dumplings, Rice and Fungi, Breads, and Desserts.

The 312-page full color book includes recipes for Souse, the ever-popular Johnny cake, and Conch Yvette’s. Lamb stew, coconut tart, guavaberry, and soursop drink are also among the over 200 recipes à la Yvette in this Treasury of St. Martin’s Traditional & Contemporary Cuisine, said Sample.“We hope that this cookbook’s success also adds to the indicator of the performance and importance of books published in the Caribbean,” said Sample.The other HNP book that sold out in such a short time was the 1989 poetry collection Golden Voices of S’maatin. That first title by Ruby Bute had sold out in about three months and has since been reprinted, said Sample.

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Greenback Planet: How the Dollar Conquered

the World and Threatened Civilization as We Know It

By H. W. Brands

In Greenback Planet, acclaimed historian H. W. Brands charts the dollar's astonishing rise to become the world's principal currency. Telling the story with the verve of a novelist, he recounts key episodes in U.S. monetary history, from the Civil War debate over fiat money (greenbacks) to the recent worldwide financial crisis. Brands explores the dollar's changing relations to gold and silver and to other currencies and cogently explains how America's economic might made the dollar the fundamental standard of value in world finance. He vividly describes the 1869 Black Friday attempt to corner the gold market, banker J. P. Morgan's bailout of the U.S. treasury, the creation of the Federal Reserve, and President Franklin Roosevelt's handling of the bank panic of 1933. Brands shows how lessons learned (and not learned) in the Great Depression have influenced subsequent U.S. monetary policy, and how the dollar's dominance helped transform economies in countries ranging from Germany and Japan after World War II to Russia and China today.

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The Frock & Other Poems  

By Laurelle “Yaya” Richards

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.

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National Symbols of St. Martin—A Primer

By Lasana M. Sekou

The 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.

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The Salt Reaper: Poems from the Flats

By Lasana M. Sekou

The Salt Reaper, Sekou's most recent offering, is made up of 18 poems from the decade of the nineties and about 40 new poems from the current decade. An informative introduction by Hollis 'Chalkdust' Liverpool and some intriguing photographic illustration are included in this text. They serve to cushion the provocative and intense voice that issues from these pages and lend perspective to the call for nationhood.

Sekou's multi-creole vocals are subtle, but ever-present ('becausein') and his words insist on oralitythey sing the nation off the page and into being. He has followed the example set by Brathwaite and writes with visual text that leaps off the page

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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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 Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update  2 March 2012




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