ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



Serious people from around the world are starting to take a closer look

at the quality of writers, books, and a national literature coming out of St. Martin.

 Lasana M. Sekou                                                                                                                                    Frank Martinus Arion



Lasana Sekou in Oxford Poetry Book 

and Caribbean Encyclopedia

By Jacqueline Sample


GREAT BAY, St. Martin (February 21, 2006)—St. Martin poet/author Lasana M. Sekou started 2006 the way he ended 2005, featured in another important book on Caribbean literature and culture.

In January 2006, the double-volume Encyclopedia of Caribbean Literature, the first of its kind, was published in the US and in the UK by Greenwood Press. “I am happy that the editor of the first encyclopedia of Caribbean Literature selected Lasana as one of the literary people to write about.

“To be in this book means that a St. Martin author is considered as one of the important writers of our region,” said Rhoda Arrindell, literature instructor at the University of St. Martin (USM).

The hardcover encyclopedia consists of a whopping 1,016 pages of text, photos, and maps. D.H. Figueredo —author, researcher, and director of the Library and Media Center at Bloomfield College—edited the Encyclopedia of Caribbean Literature. The two volumes, size 7 x 10, are sold for $199.95.

The acclaimed Cuban scholar Emilio Jorge Rodríguez wrote Sekou’s profile. “Serious people from around the world are starting to take a closer look at the quality of writers, books, and a national literature coming out of St. Martin.

“This should inspire more writers and writings from the island in a strong way,” said Arrindell, who also heads the language division at USM. The two-volume tome includes more than 700 entries written by over 20 experts.

“In this month of celebrating history, we can say that Lasana is making some more history for his St. Martin people by being featured with the greats like St. John Perse, Derek Walcott, Nicolas Guillen, George Lamming, Leon Damas, Anton de Kom, the Naipaul Family, Pedro Mir, Maryse Conde, Kamau Brathwaite, Frantz Fanon, and Fidel Castro—all of whom are featured in the encyclopedia.”

In addition to the legion of authors, the publication profiles the region’s literary and socio-cultural movements, among other critical, interconnected aspects of its history, culture, and politics from, refreshingly, every language zone and the Caribbean Diaspora (prior to the early 1800s and up to the present).

The Encyclopedia of Caribbean Literature also reveals how the region’s literature and socio-cultural dynamics continue to impact not only Caribbean people but writers; literature, music, and art; and socio-cultural and political developments throughout the world.

When Oxford Speaks?

In December 2005, Sekou’s poem “Liberation Theology” (Mothernation, 1991) was published in The Oxford Book of Caribbean Verse. This is the newest anthology of Caribbean literature. The editors, Stewart Brown, a London-based poet and critic and Dr. Mark McWatt, an award-winning author and UWI professor of literature, cover 100 years of poetry that they consider to have been among the best and most telling of the last century of Caribbean reality and aesthetics.

To the editors, “The Caribbean has produced what is arguably the most vigorous and exciting body of poetry in the twentieth century, and this anthology will be the first to cover all its major languages.” The 440-page book further covers from the established “to less acclaimed poets of the 20s, 30s, and 40s, and exciting new voices from the 80s and 90s.”

The some 154 poets featured range from Derek Walcott, Aimé Césaire, to Jesus Cos Causse and Olive Senior, to Chiqui Vicioso and Jacques Roumain, to Jennifer Rahim, Kendel Hippolyte, Julia de Burgos, the Dawes family, and Nydia Ecury, Mutabaruka, Rooplal Monar, and Linton Kwesi Johnson.

Fabian Badejo, an impatient advocate for the Caribbean to become the primary publishing center for its own literature, and who broke the news here about the book on the Culture Time radio program last December, said that, “Oxford is still a citadel of Caribbean literary publishing.

“When Oxford University Press publishes a selection of Caribbean poets it is an announcement to the world about who’s who in a region that has produced an unprecedented amount of winners of the Nobel prize in literature given both its small geographic and population size.”

According to the London Guardian newspaper, The Oxford Book of Caribbean Verse is a “wonderful beginner’s guide to the amazing riches of Caribbean poetry” in which “The editors provide an excellent, comprehensive introduction.”

There Is More

If the above literary news was not enough about recent highlights in the progress of St. Martin writing, the US-based, a key portal of independent and university presses, has just listed Sekou’s newest book, 37 Poems, as one of its current “New & Noteworthy Books.”

Here are two more news bytes to “celebrate” St. Martin’s literature. Drisana Debbie Jack, photograph and all, and her new book Skin, appeared in The New York Amsterdam News of February 9, alongside her stellar seniors Austin Clarke (Barbados/Canada) and Frank Martinus (Curacao) – all three authors fresh from Winternachten 2006 in The Hague. Secondly, the just-released tourism magazine St. Maarten/St. Martin Experience 2006 is also attempting to tap into and share with visitors what is authentic St. Martin culture with a short “wordsmiths” write-up, highlighting the poem “Salt pond” by Esther Gumbs (Tales From the Great Salt Pond, 1996).

The Amsterdam News article by media specialist Misani and the Gumbs-Bradshaw poem in Experience 2006 were facilitated through House of Nehesi’s promotions of St. Martin’s artists and writers.

Jacqueline Sample is president of House of Nehesi Publishers Foundation, St. Martin, and Black Dimensions in Art, Inc., New York

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Encyclopedia of Caribbean Literature [Two Volumes]By D. H. Figueredo

The Caribbean is a part of the world with diverse cultures and a long and fascinating literary tradition. The people of this region have endured through civil strife, poverty, natural disasters, and military conflicts; and their literature reflects their despair and dreams. Accessible to students and general readers, this encyclopedia overviews the lives and works of Caribbean authors.

Because Caribbean literature is so much a reflection of regional concerns, the encyclopedia gives special attention to the political, cultural, and historical contexts in which Caribbean authors have lived and worked. To help with this massive endeavor, scholar and librarian Danilo H. Figueredo has assembled an impressive team of advisors and authors. Included in the encyclopedia are more than 700 alphabetically arranged entries written by more than 20 expert contributors. These entries cover authors, works, genres, historical and cultural figures, themes, and various special topics.

Among the entries are pieces on:

Anancy Stories /  Julia Alvarez /  Reinaldo Arenas / Edward Kamau Brathwaite / Fidel Castro / Joseph Sickman Corsen / Costumbrismo / Dominican Republic, History of the Literature / Exile Literature / Feminism in Caribbean Literature /  Frantz Fanon /  A House for Mr. Biswas / Immigrant Literature / Edna Manley / Samuel Selvon / Spiralist Movement / Ruben Suro / Surrealism / Nathaniel Weekes / And many more.

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Frank Martinus Arion (pseudonym of Frank Efraim Martinus) was born in 1936 in Curacao. In 1955 he moved to the Netherlands where he studied at, and subsequently worked for, the Institute for Dutch Studies. He returned to Curacao in 1981 where he is the director of the Language Bureau, which promotes the use and recognition of Papiamento, a pidgin language of the Antilles.

For Arion the primary function of literature is to provide readers with a critical knowledge of reality. At the same time Arion wants to ‘captivate his readers to the extent of burning their cooking on the stove’ as he writes gripping, finely constructed political thrillers. 

The base for his novel, Dubbelspel (Double Play), is the colonial relationship between the Netherlands and the Antilles. The six main characters represent the lower classes of the Antillian population, with a pair of idealistic lovers finally devoting themselves to the social and political upliftment of their island Curacao, reflecting the author’s vision of the future. 

The same idealism appears in De laatse vrijheid where the main character defies death through sheer willpower. “In this book the author has created a world in which one can momentarily forget the real world. Right from the start to the very end Arion keeps the reader in suspense” . Dubbelspel was awarded the Lucy B. and C.W. van der Hoogt Prize in 1974 and it has been translated into German, Danish and English .

posted 1 March 2006

*   *   *   *   *’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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Super Rich: A Guide to Having it All

By Russell Simmons

Russell Simmons knows firsthand that wealth is rooted in much more than the stock  market. True wealth has more to do with what’s in your heart than what’s in your wallet. Using this knowledge, Simmons became one of America’s shrewdest entrepreneurs, achieving a level of success that most investors only dream about. No matter how much material gain he accumulated, he never stopped lending a hand to those less fortunate. In Super Rich, Simmons uses his rare blend of spiritual savvy and street-smart wisdom to offer a new definition of wealth-and share timeless principles for developing an unshakable sense of self that can weather any financial storm. As Simmons says, “Happy can make you money, but money can’t make you happy.”

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The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama’s political success and Oprah Winfrey’s financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today… than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits.

Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don’t know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.—Publishers Weekly

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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 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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update 5 July 2012




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