ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



“we are asking whether you have any objections to us using the poem [‘We Continue’]

in a display of a collection of poems from June to September 2012 in the outdoor spaces

around the Royal Festival Hall and the Queen Elizabeth Hall. The area is one

of London’s  most high-profile and visited spaces.”




Lasana Sekou Poetry

at Literary Event for London Olympics 2012


Great Bay/Marigot, St. Martin (July 17, 2012)—St. Martin poetry is now among what the London Evening Standard called, “The pick of the world’s poetry in London” for the Olympic Games, set to open in the UK capital on July 27, 2012.

The poem “We Continue” by Lasana M. Sekou, one of the island’s poets, has been printed on a large outdoor banner in London, published in the commemorative poetry book The World Record, and, in a “Rain of Poems,” dropped as one of 100,000 poems from a helicopter over the south bank of the Thames to open what The Guardian newspaper called, “the biggest gathering of poets in history.”

Sekou was invited to the gathering, called the Poetry Parnassus. The festival is the main literary event among the cultural activities taking place across Great Britain to celebrate the Olympic Games.

The Poetry Parnassus, hosted by London’s culture-savvy Southbank Centre from June 26 to July 1, brought together “poets and spoken-word artists from all over the world with all 204 competing Olympic nations represented,” said Natalie Wisdom of the Parnassus permissions department.

The Parnassus selected one poet from each Olympic nation. Among the participating poets were Nobel Laureates Derek Walcott (St. Lucia) and Wole Soyinka (Nigeria), Pulitzer Prize Winner and Poet Laureate Kay Ryan (USA), and the multitalented Tishani Doshi (India)

With neither part of St. Martin being an Olympic nation, the organizers placed Sekou to represent the island of his birth, Aruba, a Dutch territory with an Olympic status. “But Lasana said that as a St. Martin poet he would only be able to represent his St. Martin nation in this case,” said Jacqueline Sample, president of House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP).

The Poetry Parnassus organizers would not give up that easy. “As Mr. Sekou is not attending the festival,” stated Wisdom in a June 11 email to HNP, “we are asking whether you have any objections to us using the poem [‘We Continue’] in a display of a collection of poems from June to September 2012 in the outdoor spaces around the Royal Festival Hall and the Queen Elizabeth Hall. The area is one of London’s most high-profile and visited spaces.”

And that is how “We Continue,” with its decidedly pan-Caribbean/pan-Latin American themes came to be part of a historic literary event in celebration of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.

The Guardian has called the ongoing program of cultural activities in the UK the “Cultural Olympiad.” In a July 15 article, the Los Angeles Times has called this Olympiad a spectacle of 12,000 cultural events in celebration of the Games that “could also help attract future tourists.”

As for “We Continue,” the poem can be viewed at The Guardian website as part of a specially designed interactive map of global poetry. The poem was first published in Maroon Lives (1983), said Sample. It can be found at Van Dorp, and other bookstores, in Pelican Heart (2010), an English-Spanish book of Sekou’s poems from 1978 to 2010, edited by the Cuban critic Emilio Jorge Rodríguez.

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We Continue

                   By Lasana M. Sekou


It is time to continue

And today I greet you here

As if for the first time

Compañeros/Hermanos/Hombres y Mujeres

           Gentes del Sol

           Del Caribe

          De América Latina

Gentes de sangre Africana

     de sangre Indígena

Living through the blood of a world union


But we have lived in the same house

And danced the same dances,

We have loved each other’s songs

Without really knowing each other’s names –

Brothers and sisters . . .

Cousins and comrades . . .

Sufferers and fighters . . .


Today we begin

To speak for ourselves/

Unleash our tongues from isolation/

Speak our destiny

As we fight for liberation.

In solidarity

Speak of destiny

Inna one tongue

La lengua de libertad

The language of the brave.


Escucha, pueblo

Dime –

Can the killers of Allende


With the same sweetness and Truth

As our fathers and mothers?

Name them, here

Alive for the Living Struggle

In the eternal flame of Liberty



José Martí.


Duarte y Duruo

Bottom Belly, Biassou and Bishop

Queen Mary and the son of Mariana Grajales, Maceo.


Ramón Betances y Edward Blyden.

Marcus Garvey y Don Albizu Campos.

Caamaño, Cudjoe y Karpata

Sandino y Farabundo.


Walter Rodney and Bob Marley.

Fédon and Fanon.

Tula and José Lake, the patriot


Marryshow, Delgrès, y Che

Limpera y Guillén.

Henrique Dias y Emiliano Zapata.

Names without meaning

If we have no meaning . . .


And the people –

Yes, always the people

Where lies the only Truth

Where blood and sweat and laughter

Nourishes the Lands

That feeds this Culture

To forge this wreath of freedom song/

To fight down the dictators, los gorilas/

To turn back los imperialistas


Who else can free us?

Who else can feed us?

Who but ourselves…….majestic multitudes….


Greetings Compañeros,

We have lived in the same house

And danced the same dances . . .


We have loved/


We have loved

Each other’s songs . . .

© 2010, 1983 Lasana M. Sekou (H.H. Lake).

*   *   *   *   *’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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Captain of the Planter: The Story of Robert Smalls

By Dorothy Sterling

Dorothy Sterling’s biography of Robert Smalls is Captain of the Planter: The Story of Robert Smalls (Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1958). In most history books, the contributions of Negroes during the Civil War and Reconstructions are ignored. Robert Smalls was one of the heroes who is rarely mentioned. He was a Negro slave who stole a ship from the Confederates, served on it with the Union Army with distinction, and finally served several terms in Congress.

All this was accomplished against the handicaps first of slavery, then of the prejudice of the Union Army, and finally of the Jim Crow laws, which eventually conquered him. Besides its value in contradicting the history book insinuation that the Negro was incapable of political enterprise and that the South was right in imposing Jim Crow laws, Captain of the Planter is an exciting adventure story. Captain Smalls’ escape from slavery and his battle exploits make interesting reading, and the style is fast moving.—Barbara Dodds /

Legacy of Robert Smalls

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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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Pelican Heart—An Anthology of Poems by Lasana M. Sekou

Edited by Emio Jorge Rodriguez

Passion for the Nation is what comes out of Sekou’s poems at a first glance and at a deeper reading. The book is a selection gathered from eleven of Sekou’s poetry collections between 1978 and 2010. Rodríguez is an independent Cuban academic, writer, and essayist. He has been a researcher at Casa de las Américas’s Literary Research Center and founded the literary journal Anales del Caribe (1981-2000). María Teresa Ortega translated the poems from the original English to Spanish. A critical introduction, detailed footnotes, and a useful glossary by Rodríguez are also found in the book of 428 pages. The collection has been launched at conferences in Barbados, Cuba, and Mexico.

Rodriguez’s introduction to Pelican Heart refers to Dr. Howard Fergus’s Love Labor Liberation in Lasana Sekou, which is the critical commentary to Sekou’s work that identifies three cardinal points in his poetics.

I would add as cardinal points: Belief or Driving Force of people in political processes, like his political commitment to make St. Martin independent, as the southern part of the Caribbean island is a territory of the Netherlands, while the northern part is a French Collectivité d’outre-mer; Excitement over his literary passions, which led him to found House of Nehesi Publishers at age 23; co-found the book festival of St. Martin, organized with Conscious Lyrics Foundation and to expand his culture considerably; Enthusiasm, which springs out of his eyes and words when you listen to his poetry being performed or when you speak to Sekou in person.—Sara Florian

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Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label ‘trafficked’ does not accurately describe migrants’ lives and that the ‘rescue industry’ serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice.

“Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality.”—Lisa Adkins, University of London

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Aké: The Years of Childhood

By Wole Soyinka

Aké: The Years of Childhood is a memoir of stunning beauty, humor, and perception


a lyrical account of one boy’s attempt to grasp the often irrational and hypocritical world of adults that equally repels and seduces him. Soyinka elevates brief anecdotes into history lessons, conversations into morality plays, memories into awakenings. Various cultures, religions, and languages mingled freely in the Aké of his youth, fostering endless contradictions and personalized hybrids, particularly when it comes to religion. Christian teachings, the wisdom of the ogboni, or ruling elders, and the power of ancestral spirits


who alternately terrify and inspire him


all carried equal metaphysical weight. Surrounded by such a collage, he notes that “God had a habit of either not answering one’s prayers at all, or answering them in a way that was not straightforward.” In writing from a child’s perspective, Soyinka expresses youthful idealism and unfiltered honesty while escaping the adult snares of cynicism and intolerance. His stinging indictment of colonialism takes on added power owing to the elegance of his attack.

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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

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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 19 July 2012 




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