ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



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



Lasana Sekou and Kendel Hippolyte

Open Bocas Lit Fest Poetry Readings in Trinidad

By Shivanee Ramlochan


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 point forward).

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 term.

The post-reading 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 fast.

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.

Shivanee Ramlochan is a literary critic and expert in English literature and Spanish from Trinidad & Tobago.

Ed. Note: 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 The country’s National Gas Company (NGC) proudly and generously sponsored the book fair (April 26-29).

*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 – Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 – Don’t Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 – Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 – Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King

#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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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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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.

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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.

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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 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

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


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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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posted 7 May 2012




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