"Where I See The Sun – Poetry in Contemporary St. Martin" is the working name for the upcoming anthology. A wide range of subjects and writings styles are encouraged, said Jacqueline Sample, president of HNP.
HNP easily issued the "Call for Poetry" online last week but the guidelines could make getting your poems in the new book a bit tough.
Nevertheless, it is an exciting proposition from a press that has published literary giants like Kamau Brathwaite (Barbados) and Amiri Baraka (USA), a Harvard scholar like Marion Bethel (The Bahamas), and a lifetime collection of poems by the late Charles Borromeo Hodge, hedging his work from obscurity on his own island.
"If done right this publication can be used in schools throughout the region and in colleges. A strong collection is needed; a kind of a one-stop introduction to St. Martin poetry," Drisana Debbie Jack, one of the nation's leading author/artist.
Over the last four years, poetry readings at Axum Café, Top Carrot, and the park of the Hotel de la Collectivité suggest an emerging generation of poets and writers of poems eager and willing to get their work out to the general public.
The recital of unpublished poets Rochelle Ward and Mariela Xue at the 10th anniversary of the St. Martin Book Fair in June, tell us that some fine writing is in the making, said Sample. The last anthology of St. Martin poetry was Winds Above the Hills, compiled by Wycliffe Smith and published in 1982 for SMAFESTAC.
Thirty years since that groundbreaking festival – in which the Ponum was revived! – there have been about 16 single-author collections published. But there has not been a single poetry anthology, even after both parts of the Friendly Island attained an adjusted autonomous political status.
"It would be great to have some new voices. We must make room for the cubs," said Jack in response to last week's "Call for Poetry." Both of her books published by HNP have been used in US universities.
A rigorous selection process by a confidential editorial board is planned for "Where I See The Sun." The writers submitting their work "just have to meet the measure," said Jack. Her first title, The Rainy Season (1997), was one of the most read HNP poetry books in 2009, according Philipsburg Jubilee Library statistics.
Jack thinks that the title for the new St. Martin poetry book is an "inspired" one. Hopefully the idea and challenge of the anthology will inspire poets and aspiring poets to take a chance at getting published in it, whether they've been published before or not, are senior wordsmiths or young upstarts, write regularly or now-and-then, or express themselves through traditional meter, free verse, or spoken word rap.
In his book Salted Tongues (2003), the writer and critic Fabian Badejo has already advised, in a somewhat priestly tone, "Publish and be Blessed!"
In Photo 1: Deborah Drisana Jack, poet, artist, "We must make way for the cubs." (HNP photo). In Photo 2: Changa Hickinson, will poems from his unpublished collection enter the upcoming anthology? In Photo 3 below: One of St. Martin's "new voice" poets Rochelle Ward (L), during her studies at UWI, with Trinidad's great novelist Earl Lovelace (RW photo)