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Pierrot, Road Trip explore Caribbean identity

Written by Andre Bagoo for Newsday on Sunday, May 31, 2020

At the heart of St Lucia-born John Robert Lee’s Pierrot (for the purpose of this review we need not consider the differences between the pierrot and the pierrot grenade, though the poet shows awareness of this) is the idea of art inspiring art. Here is a book in dialogue with painting, with sculpture, with photography, with music, with writing. This alone makes us pause, question what is art and how it relates to posited things and the ever-changing world. “Some would say all poetry is ekphrastic,” the poet muses.

The cloth is cut from poets and their poems too. The first half of the book features pieces that deploy a form known as the glosa, in which the poet inserts lines between those of another poet’s four-line stanza. Here, the stanzas are taken from figures like Derek Walcott, Dionne Brand and Francis Thompson, as well as the Psalms.


Overall, there is a transformation that, if not celebratory, runs against the tide. So the Mighty Shadow, who wore all black as he sang against the cultural hegemony of the colonial, is re-born in these rich, reflective pages as a “prancing pierrot.”

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