Lasana Sekou’s poetry, short stories taught in Mexico and at the University of Puerto Rico

In December, University of Puerto Rico (UPR) students will turn in term papers and take final exams that reflect their study of Nativity, The Salt Reaper, and Brotherhood of The Spurs by the St. Martin author Lasana M. Sekou.

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Emilio Jorge Rodriguez (R) and two of the course participants during his multimedia presentation on Caribbean Literature at University City, UNAM’s main campus. (EJR Photo)

Some of the university students had more than just Sekou’s poetry and fiction books to read. The Doctoral Program of UPR’s English department brought Sekou to Puerto Rico to give a three-day lecture last October/November, according to Dr. Dannabang Kuwabong, professor of Caribbean Literature.

Sekou read poetry and fiction, lectured on “Why publish in the Caribbean,” and conducted a creative writing workshop, all attended by students and professors.

Sekou enthralled his audience … with lively readings from his expressive poetry and novels,” posted the English department on its FB page following the public reading in the Richardson Seminar Room on October 30.

The “Three Days of Literary Fiesta” at UPR was a program of the Visiting Guest Lecture Series of the College of Humanities, said Kuwabong, whose students had been reading Brotherhood of The Spurs as a required text.

Prof. Loretta Collins-Klobah also invited Sekou to discuss his work with her undergraduate creative writing class and her graduate class, “Caribbean Poetry and Drama,” that were studying The Salt Reaper and Nativity respectively.

UPR is the fourth university to study books by the St. Martin writer in 2014.

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St. Martin author Lasana M. Sekou (center, front row) and Prof. Kuwabong (L) with students and teachers that participated in the creative writing workshop conducted by Sekou. (Photo courtesy: C. Milagros-Torres)

Within days after Sekou returned home from Puerto Rico, an intensive three-day course on “Orality and Writing in Caribbean Literature” began in Mexico, focusing on his poetry alongside regional greats such as Nicolas Guillen, Louise Bennett, Kamau Brathwaite, and Derek Walcott, according to literary critic Emilio Jorge Rodriguez. One of the reference books used was Corazón de pelícano – Antología poética de Lasana M. Sekou / Pelican Heart – An Anthology of Poems by Lasana M. Sekou.

The mid-November course conducted by Rodriguez also discussed the poetry of Suriname’s Robin Dobru, Curacao’s Nydia Ecury, and acclaimed dub poets Mutabaruka, Linton Kwesi Johnson, and Mickey Smith.

Rodriguez is a leading comparative literatures scholar and himself an award-wining Cuban author. “I’m happy that poets published in St. Martin at HNP, like Mr. Brathwaite and Lasana, are being presented to new audiences as examples of the highly competitive, world class literatures of the Caribbean,” said Jacqueline Sample, president of House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP).

Emilio, who HNP was also honored to publish, is making authoritative links for all of us to discover ourselves, and to know each other better in the various Caribbean literatures, across the different language zones, and sometimes in surprising and easy-to-understand ways,” said Sample during her visit here last week.

The course by Rodriguez was part of the program marking the XIV Conference of the Caribbean Book, which was co-organized as a 75th anniversary feature of Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH). One of the course sponsors was the prestigious UNAM, the largest and oldest public research university in Latin America.

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