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Wordplanting

This is Kendel Hippolyte’s seventh collection of poetry. To the immense strengths found in his earlier work is added a new sense of urgency. He is quite simply amongst the very best of Caribbean poets warranting an international reputation. No poet’s voice sounds more Caribbean, yet his poems echo the most radical and questioning voices in English poetry.

Author(s)
Kendel Hippolyte
ISBN
9781845234355
Pages
64
Price
Classification
Poetry
Setting
St Lucia
Date published
11 Apr 2019

Kendel Hippolyte’s poetry moves easily, boldly between the worlds of public engagement and the intimacies of domesticity. What unites this movement is the challenging yet comforting sound of his voice, whether speaking to the generality, to the individual recipient of an implicit dialogue, or to himself. His is an art of sound, of rhythm, of form that disguises itself as no form, of the beauty of the crooked basket. He wants the poem to draw us in rather than hold us outside in admiration at its skill, which his poems display in spades. His vision extends outwards in illimitable ways, but his scale is always the human body and mind.

The challenge, questioning and comfort comes in the way his poems both address the dread reality of a Caribbean world of disappointed dreams, of sovereignty swamped by the neocolonialism of global brands, of waking “one morning and the Caribbean was gone”, of continuing environmental degradation. The questioning comes from introspection to wonder why this has happened, what failures of vision, what empty sloganizing, what failures of honesty, arrogance and mutual respect led to the defeats so that “the rivers of Babylon clog into vomit…” The comfort comes from both the domestic – the rituals of coffee-brewing, of bed-making – but also the refusal to retreat, to look to the moment when flint and iron can “flare into the hot bright moment of a spark”.

This is Kendel Hippolyte’s seventh collection of poetry. To the immense strengths found in his earlier work is added a new sense of urgency. He is quite simply amongst the very best of Caribbean poets warranting an international reputation. No poet’s voice sounds more Caribbean, yet his poems echo the most radical and questioning voices in English poetry.

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Kendel Hippolyte

Born in St. Lucia in 1952, he studied and lived in Jamaica in the 1970s, where he explored his talents as a poet, playwright and director. As a poet, his writing ranges across the continuum of language from Standard English to the varieties of Caribbean English and he has also written poems in Kweyol, his nation language.

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