blog | werkgroep caraïbische letteren
Posts tagged with: Arrindell Rhoda

Webinar over Sranan en veerkracht Afro talen

Op 5 maart 2023 organiseert de Beweging Zwarte Vooruitgang Suriname een webinar over het Sranantongo als taal van de verbinding.

read on…

Fantasies – Love-making poems

Fantasies – Love-making poems by Fabian Badejo, “a grown-up” book launching at St. Martin Book Fair 2018

GREAT BAY, St. Martin (May 29, 2018)—Fantasies – Love-making poems by Fabian Adekunle Badejo has just been published here by House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP), said the indie press president Jacqueline Sample. The newest book by Badejo, a well-known St. Martin writer, is “A grown-up literary confection that does what verse written by men seems to seldom do these days,” said author and journalist Sharon Leach of the Jamaica Observer newspaper. read on…

St. Martin book wins USA book design award

GREAT BAY, St. Martin (January 3, 2018)—Language, Culture and Identity in St. Martin by Rhoda Arrindell, a leading St. Martin linguist, has won the Graphic Design USA Award according to Gordon Kay, editor of the GDUSA magazine. Carole Maugé-Lewis designed the winning book cover for the House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP) title, said Jacqueline Sample, president of the St. Martin indie press. read on…

St. Martin books and writers at international literature conference

Great Bay, St. Martin (November 8, 2016)—Gone are the days when a territorial, regional, or international conference on education, culture, media, tourism or such related subject areas could be held in St. Martin without a single writer or serious book from the island being available for conference-goers to interact with.
At least that’s what it looked like at the recent exhibit of over 40 book titles published in St. Martin and managed by Odele Anderson, a senior member of the St. Martin Book Fair Committee. read on…

St. Martin women tell their own hair stories for International Women’s Day

Great Bay, St. Martin (February 23, 2014)—“Hard Hair: St. Martin Women and the Culture of Natural Hair” is a panel discussion set for International Women’s Day, March 8, at 7:30 PM, at Philipsburg Jubilee Library, said organizer Rochelle Ward.
The lifestyle discussion of natural hair stories by St. Martin women is the first program in 2014 from Don’t Break the Comb (DBC), the island’s first natural hair group, said co-founder Ward.
The panelists are Dr. Nilda Arduin, ombudsman, Dr. Rhoda Arrindell, linguist, educator, Robin Boasman, author of Lizzy Lizard, the ACT Award book of the year, and two poetry-writing attorneys, Patricia Chance-Duzant and Ayana Tyrell.
“Robin Boasman, who is also a kindergarten teacher and mother of one son, is delighted to tell her story. Ayana Tyrell, a practicing lawyer at Alex Richardson and Associates in Anguilla, will speak about natural hair perceptions; and Attorney Patricia Chance-Duzant will share her fascinating childhood hair stories,” said Ward. 
“Nature is beautiful,” said Dr. Rhoda Arrindell, “and if your hair is natural by design, though it may be adjusted to fit your moods and phases in life, it is already created perfect.” A former minister of education and culture, Dr. Rhoda Arrindell, will share her thoughts on hair and identity.
“The panel will create greater awareness and appreciation for afro hair as a way of ‘being’ and accepting oneself,” said Dr. Nilda Arduin, whose “Aha! Moment” about her hair occurred at age 16.
“It is fitting for us St. Martin women to tell our own natural hair stories as many women from the Americas, Europe, other parts of the Caribbean, Africa and the South Pacific are returning to or taking this natural hair pilgrimage toward self-acceptance,” said Ward.
And as if hair stories will not produce a lively enough discussion, a table of books by St. Martin women will be added as a unique centerpiece of the program. “I think people will be surprised to see how many St. Martin women have written books within a short period of time,” said Ward, herself a leading new generation published poet, blogger, and high school teacher.  
DBC is inviting all interested women authors of St. Martin who would like to participate in the book table exhibition to email DBC “It’s a perfect International Women’s Day feature. Attendees of the panel discussion are invited to purchase books by Ruby Bute, the first St. Martin woman to publish a book in the 1980s; and books by drs. Gracita Arrindell, Felicita Williams, Esther Gumbs, Robin Boasman, Janice James, and others, including newly published women writers in Where I See The Sun – Contemporary Poetry in St. Martin. A number of the authors will be present to socialize and autograph copies after the discussion,” said Ward.
The panel discussion, “Hard Hair: St. Martin Women and the Culture of Natural Hair,” is sponsored by the Philipsburg Jubilee Library, SOS radio, and Ital Shack.      
The March 8 discussion is also a follow-up to last year’s hair workshop attended by over 200 persons,” said Ward. “That workshop was called ‘Natural Hair Mixology: How to make your own homemade hair products,’ and hosted by DBC at the 11th annual St. Martin Book Fair.” 

Where I See The Sun … I see harvest

by Fabian Ade Badejo 
Thirty-one years is a long time to wait for a new harvest of voices, but in many respects, Where I See The Sun – Contemporary Poetry in St. Martin – the second anthology of poetry to be published on the island within two generations, was quite worth the wait. Just as the first, Winds Above the Hills compiled and edited by Wycliffe Smith was linked to a major cultural event, the St. Maarten Festival of Arts and Culture (SMAFESTAC) held in 1982, this new anthology can be described as a commemorative publication to mark the 10th anniversary of the St. Martin Book Fair, never mind the fact that it came out in 2013 and was launched at the 11th edition of this important literary event. It is not within the purview of this review to compare the two anthologies, but suffice it to reiterate the pivotal role House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP) has been playing in the development of a St. Martin literary tradition, with dozens of published writers whose works may have never seen print.
Where I See The Sun … is therefore a welcome addition to that steadily increasing list of HNP publications – professional in their presentations, delightful in their content, and edifying in the maturing of the literary arts in St. Martin.
Where I see the sun … I see a rainbow, straddling the hills, arching through the sky, with feet firmly grounded in the Caribbean Sea. This collection of poems, culled from a publicized “Call for Poetry,” reflects the exciting ethnic, national, and racial demographics of the island. However, this is not a rainbow collection in the sense of a lack of collective identity. To the contrary, these are ALL St. Martin poets, singing St. Martin songs like a well-experienced choir. It is a credit to the editor of the volume, poet/essayist/historian and publisher, Lasana Sekou, that he deliberately selected these poets despite their varying backgrounds as true St. Martin voices, speaking to St. Martin issues of their choice. St. Martin is a melting pot and as I have argued in other places, it is perhaps the most Caribbean in this sense, of all the islands in the archipelago, certainly, the most charismatically Caribbean of them all. Here, place of birth and country of origin is meaningless when you embrace the land and its people. In other words, you don’t have to be born here to be considered a St. Martiner; you just have to fit in, blend in and make your own contribution to the life and progress of the people and you will become what is termed in local parlance: “born to be here.”
Nobody in this new collection exemplifies this “new arrivant” St. Martiner more than Mariela Xue, born in the Dominican Republic, brought to St. Martin at age 9, went to primary school here and returned to do high school in the country of her birth and then returning to St. Martin in 2002. Mariela, who is married to a Chinese, speaks for all those “born to be here” St. Martiners when she writes in “Over-qualified exile”:
“Am a daughter of the soil by proxy/an’ have achieved a great deal/impossible in my birthplace/Saint Martin, surrogate mother,/has given me more than I could imagine,/the opportunity to excel,/when the very people who open the door and held it/open are at times not of their own doing/denied this privilege.”
Mariela Xue is not really “a daughter of the soil by proxy” as she proclaims: she is a true daughter of the soil because in this soil, a “surrogate mother” is a mother, period. She is one of the few poets with five or more poems in this collection and certainly one of the new talents I expect to achieve a great deal more.
Where I see the sun … I hear voices, fresh like the dewdrop on a hibiscus leaf, coursing through the contours of memory deposited like aging salt in the Great Salt Pond. The sage, Kamau Brathwaite was right. Indeed, as he wrote in the blurb that opens this volume, “It’s a rare & sparkle event to have an anthology of (mainly) young poets – already into memories, their bright eyes searching the horizon for future and language.”
“My language is like the wind,” writes Georges Cocks in “Idiom, Creole.” “It strokes my soul as the clouds that it’s teasing,” he continues, ending the poem thus: “These chains of islands/Offshoots of magma/Recognise/Creole, the language of these paradise lands.”
But if Cocks, one of the few published poets in this collection, sees his language like the wind, taking flight “as the migrating bird from the mainland,” Kimasha P. Williams minces no words in making the link between the language she speaks – St. Martin English, a variety of English-based creole, as Dr. Rhoda Arrindell, former Minister of Education and a leading linguist, has already established – and her identity.
Williams declares in “These words in my mouth”: “These words in my mouth/I love them/ I ain’ care wah you gawh say/These words in my mouth/I love them/I talking like this everyday.//Don’ come tell me is broken English/When you can understand well/Fine! I gohn leave it outside the classroom/A’leas until they ring the bell.//These words in my mouth/I love them/These words in my mouth is me/Te’een matter how much I hide it/These words are my identity.”
Dr. Arrindell, the foremost proponent of recognizing the St. Martin English as a nation language, to use Brathwaite’s term, would surely be smiling on reading this.
Language, identity and culture are all intertwined, a tripod upon which rests the St. Martin Personality. Tamara Groeneveldt in “I know St. Martin’s Culture” rattles off a litany of cultural markers to knock out the colonial notion that St. Martin has no culture. “I don’t know about you, but I know about me/I am sick and tired of hearing that/St. Martin doesn’t have a culture./I know that if everybody knew what I eat,/Live and breathe on my island,/They would snatch it up like a vulture.”
And indeed, they do.
Groeneveldt is not alone in extolling those elements of St. Martin culture – its food, home remedies, dance, songs, economy, plants and other natural resources. She is in the company of Lysanne Charles (“Miss Grandmother”) who paints a folksy, lyrical and rootsy picture of a nurturing Caribbean grandma who took care of her as a child when she fell sick, and of Raymond Helligar (“Sin’ Martin Is We’z Own”) who writes: “So we claiming this land fo’ we and everything on it,/is we own/So every gawling, every pelican, is we own/Every rockstone in the gut, is we own.”
There are others too:  Terry Daniel, Glenda York, Patricia Chance-Duzant, Tadzio Bervoets, Lucinda “La Rich” Audain, Faizah Tabasamu, and Laura Richardson in a polished classical form, all speak glowingly about the land, its people and its culture.
The tone of their voices is unapologetic, unashamed, and unafraid to proclaim their identity as St. Martiners and to claim the island without regard to its dual colonial status. They sound at times like rappers – just being real – dealing with their own existential stuff, generally oblivious of where real political power actually resides.
This latter observation could be considered a drawback in the whole collection: that the poets – with one or two marked exceptions – seem in the main, unconcerned about the political developments and constitutional future of the island. There is no doubt that this does not reflect what, in recent years, has been the dominant issue among the people of the island as expressed constantly on radio call-in programs, TV talk shows, newspaper articles and online publications. In his introduction to the anthology, Sekou expresses a cultural Job-like concern about this point but it will not, and I don’t think he meant it to, stop the inevitable scrutiny.
Why does this group of poets sidestep the issue? In fairness to them, they are not the only ones: other artists, regardless of the art form they practice – music (especially kaiso), dance, theater, plastic arts, etc. – also seem to deliberately ignore political issues. For them, there is a clear separation between art and politics, never mind the political melee rampant around or during carnival, which has become the main course of calypsonians of all stripes. And even then, the lack of ideological commitment is glaring.
This is bothersome, especially in a collection of poems like Where I See the Sun that opens with “The Ponum Song,” a liberation song, with its accompanying dance, intoned by our enslaved ancestors, which one would have thought would set the tone for what to expect in the collection.
The St. Martin cultural and historical icons that Sekou has identified and popularized island-wide and beyond in his writings over the years, are clearly visible in a number of poems in the collection. However, one is still apt to ask: where is especially the political aspects of the “Sekou School” that I identified years ago in Salted Tongues? That school of poets, led by the revolutionary Lasana Sekou, whose hard-hitting poems seek a knockout punch against the colonial status of the island? For sure, they are there in name: Deborah Drisana Jack, Changa Hickinson, who says, perhaps rhetorically in “small change II”: “The nurse asked me,/Why are you so negative/about country in the kingdom/when your blood is B positive?” Then retorts: “When our rulers/are our leaders/there will be no/yard sale of government.”
I would add Faizah Tabasamu and even Mariela Xue as “new entrants” to the Sekou School, although their poems in this volume do not speak directly to the ideological directions of Sekou. Whatever the reason(s) may be, this is an omission that should be of concern to the progressives on the island.
Nevertheless, Where I See The Sun can also be considered a harvest of salt. Long before tourism, long before the advent of European adventurers, buccaneers and slavers, long, long before the West Indies Company that reaped millions in profits from our ponds, salt was king here. The Amerindians reputedly named the island “Soualiga” – land of salt. Tabasamu, in her poem of the same title, personifies her as “a woman with rockwall plaits in her hair/and white sand painted on her toes…./her lips are liquid red/and her fingers cannot hold a pen/they are brittle/from picking sour diamonds from the water/in her tub.”
Like Bervoets in his excellent prose poem, “The Great Salt Pond (3000 BC – 2012 AD): A Eulogy”, Tabasamu laments that “she isn’t who she used to be.” This is generally acknowledged on the island, not only by environmentalists like Bervoets, but also by a very large section of the population, resulting in HNP embarking on a popular signature drive to put a stop to the unnecessary filling of the Great Salt Pond, described appropriately by Sekou as the “cradle of the nation.” The resolution and signatures were later presented to the Parliament of St. Martin as well as to the relevant Ministers. Salt is the ingredient that brings out the good taste in this collection of poems. Salt, in not just a historic way, but as a metaphor for the sweetness and bitterness the island has known, is engraved in every St. Martiner’s DNA. Nobody captures this better than Dr. Jay B. Haviser in his poem “untitled”: “naked is the body and soul of the salt-picker,/salt surrounds them,/salt within the very flesh of their hearts…” These may be perhaps the most powerful three verses in the entire collection.
Drisana Deborah Jack is certainly among those who have elevated salt to the level of a national symbol. She writes in “the edges sing our songs”: “the footprints of the Caribs/etch the sides of the hills/marking their place/their present/our history/looked at you/saw women and salt/named you after both/one to soothe, one to suck/one to heal, one to season.”
Jack, a published and accomplished poet in her own right and a leading painter/multi-media artist, leads the choir in singing love songs, for what would a volume like this be like without love poems. In “the nest and other homes for the heart” Jack waxes lyrical: “someday love will find you/build a nest in your heart/with twigs of longing and bits of fabric/from clothes long worn.” Or in “tonight”: “I wait for you,/with supple skin/scented with hints of jasmine/and orchids…/warm…moist…open.” The subtleness of her erotic conjurations is a trademark of Jack’s poetry: she has a way of “killing you softly” with her pen.
Tabasamu’s love is also perfumed: it is “lavender, regal and true,” “lined with silver.” But while hers is a divine love, Tamara Groeneveldt takes up Jack’s subtle eroticism in “Sweetest thing I’ve Ever Known.” “Sweetest thing I’ve ever known/Still makes me smile although I’ve grown old/Sixty years later and it still sends the sweetest chills/Up and down my old bones./I may be gray but my fire never went cold.”
Hurrah for those whose libido remains intact even into their old age.
But young love is a learning process, as acclaimed musician and songbird, Mischu Laikah seems to suggest, whether she is trying to wriggle out of a controlling relationship (“New Beginning”) or simply trying to “Fall in Love Again.” Her poems, as could be expected, are written to be put to music.
There is a strong female presence in this volume, which is de facto representative of the cultural landscape of the island. Of the 25 poets in this anthology, 15 are women. Nothing to really worry about? What is certain is that this is approximately the ratio of female to male students in many of our classrooms. It is a topic for a different discussion.
As for Where I See The Sun, Drisana Jack ends her beautiful poem, “the edges sing our songs” with this one line: “the harvest will not be simple.” Sekou, I’m sure, knows that the harvest of voices in this anthology was not simple. But it was bountiful and opens the barn to brighter suns. 
Where I See The Sun – Contemporary Poetry in St. Martin, a new anthology of 25 poets and spoken word artists, edited by Lasana M. Sekou, at Van Dorp, Arnia’s, Shipwreck Shops, and 
 Fabian Ade Badejo is an author, journalist, and literary/culture critic.

St. Martin: ‘It’s a wrap’ and congrats to 14 HNP authors for a busy February

St. Martin (February 22, 2013)—February 2013 proved to be extra busy for authors published here by House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP). While in its 30th anniversary year, “HNP is happy to see what is for us an unprecedented crush of activities by at least 14 of our authors in just 28 days in the Caribbean, the USA, and Israel,” said HNP president Jacqueline Sample. Among the busy set of writers taking part in Black History Month celebrations and literary activities, in the shortest month of the year, were Dr. Rhoda Arrindell, Amiri Baraka, Dr. Jay B. Haviser, Fabian Adekunle Badejo, George Lamming, Marion Bethel, Joseph H. Lake, Jr., Drisana Deborah Jack, Daniella Jeffry, Robert Romney, Chiqui Vicioso, Kamau Brathwaite, Nidaa Khoury, and Lasana M. Sekou.
At Eurotast Symposium, organizers, panelists, and authors (L-R),standing, Dr. Temi Odumosu, Shujah Reiph, Fabian A. Badejo, Joseph H. Lake, Jr., Dr. Jay Haviser; seated, Daniella Jeffry, Dr. Rhoda Arrindell, Lasana M. Sekou, Clara Reyes. Photo © CLF.
 “I congratulate the writers for keeping busy, which causes a demand for their writings and their appearances in their community and in various parts of the world. I also thank the book reviewers and bloggers, and the organizers of activities who invited our writers as guests authors and keynote speakers at conferences, literary readings, school visits, library exhibits, and media appearances this month,” said Sample. Baraka and Arrindell were the busiest with numerous speaking engagements. At the EUROTAST Symposium (2/8/13), five out of the seven “First Voice” panelists and the conference’s St. Martin principal, were all authors published by the small press that has managed to produce books by leading authors from throughout Caribbean, the USA, and the Middle East.

Committee launched for 165th anniversary of St. Martin Emancipation

 Great Bay/Marigot (January 24, 2013)—A committee was recently launched to commemorate the 165th anniversary of the Emancipation from slavery in 1848 for both parts of St. Martin, said Shujah Reiph, president of Conscious Lyrics Foundation (CLF). The committee is made up of organizations and individuals that are involved in the cultural life of the island.
The year “2013 marks the 165th anniversary of St. Martin’s Emancipation, and we are inviting the people of St. Martin to celebrate the 1848 mark of freedom claimed by our ancestors and what it means to us today, with a number of events and activities,” said Reiph. The plans of the committee include the painting of a mural, an art exhibition, a commemorative calendar, hoisting of the Unity/National Flag, showing of the Alex Halley classic movie Roots, panel discussions, and a freedom concert.
The commemoration begins on February 1, at the start of the 22nd annual Black History Celebration (BHC) hosted by CLF, and is scheduled to conclude on January 1, 2014, the seventh day of Kwanzaa. The Emancipation committee consists of Dr. Rhoda Arrindell, Fabian A. Badejo, Theophilus Thompson, Shujah Reiph, Xiomara Balentina, Ras Bushman, and Morenika Arrindell. 

St. Martin Book Fair on free speech

Great Bay, St. Martin (May 29, 2011) — The just-released program of the St. Martin Book Fair, June 2 – 4, is a mix of workshops, discussions, book launches, book sales, book signing by new and famous authors, and original literary readings, said book fair coordinator Shujah Reiph.

On Thursday, June 2, the ribbon cutting ceremony, which will honor the nation’s fishermen and declare the book fair open, will be preceded chiefly by an evening with Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott, making worldly comments and reading from his newest works, said Reiph. This opening ceremony takes place at the Chamber of Commerce Bldg., Spring Concordia, Marigot, at 8 PM. Admission is free and new books will be available.

The first highlight on Friday is the Presidents Forum at the University of St. Martin (USM), starting at 4 PM. The forum focuses on freedom of speech and expression in St. Martin relative to the work of the four speakers. The panelists include author and political scientist Joseph H. Lake, Jr. and Kaiso Brat, St. Martin Calypso King 2011. The new USM president, Annelies van den Assem, LL.M., will introduce the panel, said Reiph.

Books galore, authors around to sign them, “I’m just excited about all of this,” said Reiph, “but don’t miss the workshops for the entire family.” Among the Book Fair workshops on Saturday are: ‘The Great Salt Pond: Untangling the History of Salt in St. Martin” by Dr. Jay Haviser; A literacy workshop by Dr. Rene Baly for at-risk youth and their parents. The ‘Language in literature’ workshop by Dr. Rhoda Arrindell. Participants can bring their own poems and fictions to be critiqued in this creative writing workshop.

“Don’t miss the spiritually-based motivational workshop,” said Sample. It is entitled, ‘365 Secrets for a Healthy Mind, Body, and Spirit’ by author and former Essence editor Stephanie Stokes Oliver. The photography workshop will be conducted by by Drisana Deborah Jack. At the end of the day Mix Master Pauly will give a live DJ Workshop: ‘Mixing sound, A freedom of expression.’

Then comes the evening party to “step out” to. The book party for From Yvette’s Kitchen To Your Table – A Treasury of St. Martin’s Traditional & Contemporary Cuisine by Yvette Hyman will take place at Belair Community Center, Cay Hill, at 8 PM. Tourism director Regina LaBega is the guest speaker at the Closing Ceremony and Main Book Launch. Award-winning musician and kaisonian Mighty Dow, will perform on pan, and the Presidents Award will be presented at the end of the Saturday evening program, said Sample.

For more about the St. Maarten Book Fair program, visit or

  • RSS
  • Facebook
  • Twitter