Wednesday, May 1, 2013
'Sighting and other poems of faith' XLibris, 2013.
"Have not yet got into the poem you sent but the first look is v/impressive and Quite some length! Makes me want to ask you about yr religious Damascus, if i may put it that way. in writing somewhere? or perhaps you've nvr specifically shared it?" -
This excerpt from an email to me from Kamau Brathwaite is the genesis of my new publication 'Sighting and other poems of faith.'
That query in Kamau's email got me thinking and I got a notepad and made some notes towards a prose 'spiritual autobiography', tracing my journey to a practising Christian faith.
At some point, in all this rumination, the idea came to gather my poems dealing specifically with faith from my published collections and some new, unpublished work. It did not take long to put a manuscript together since most of my poems are on my computer.
The poem 'Sighting', which I had not collected in my most recent 'elemental' (Peepal, 2008), seemed most appropriate as the title poem. It had been written in 1983 in Jamaica and remains dedicated to George 'Fish' Alphonse, poet, actor and director. The collection begins with 'Prodigal', my first poem dealing specifically with my faith and is dedicated to Kendel and Jane Hippolyte.
I included the whole of 'Canticles' (2007). I added a number of my photographs. The cover photo was a shot I had taken from my home in Plateau, Babonneau of Morne Gimie, our highest mountain. A couple photographs from other photographers accompany some of the poems excerpted from my Haiti sequence. I have also included some new poems which have appeared in BIM.
While the poems don't describe the 'Damascus' journey enquired of by Kamau (I'll have to go back to the prose memoir) they reflect my journey of faith after that point of turning again in 1978 to the faith I had as a child.
I have often described my poems as describing my Caribbean 'pilgrim's progress' of faith through my own landscape, my own flesh and blood experience surrounded by the language, the music, the events of the day far and near. My faith is rooted in what I know and live. And the poems try to speak out of that personal reality.
I first thought of a limited edition I would publish and print in St. Lucia. Then somewhere along the road, MacDonald Dixon pointed me to XLibris the print on demand publishing house who produces his work. They seemed to offer some useful benefits like an ebook, and full colour paper and hardback books. With the help of a patron, I sent off the manuscript and here we are. The book is available on Amazon and other on line sellers, including the Xlibris bookstore.
Around all that I have been compiling a bibliography of St. Lucian Creative writing, working slowly on a new collection of poems for Peepal Tree Press, and still have to go back to that spiritual memoir of my Damascus journey. I owe Kamau, and perhaps myself, that review of an earlier life.