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by St. Lucian Poet Kendel Hippolyte
The lines appear on sidewalks and on streets just recently
on bridges and on buildings, the creases, cracks, accumulating;
the fractures of a thin, brittle civilization aging prematurely.
The hand of something dying scrabbles these last messages
a harsh cuneiform trying to break through surfaces into our
But we can barely read that ancient language now, of earth writing
We walk between the lines, fill in the blank telling cracks,
deconstruct, if need be,
our crumbling edifices breaking out in fault lines from trying to
contain what we've become.
This hand is writing too on faces -- lines of bewilderment, fear,
other unfinished lines trail off, coagulating red on bodies left as
torsos punctuated with the exclamation marks of knife wounds,
full stops of bullet holes;
final sentences marked on faces of those who used to be too
young to kill or to be killed.
Something is desperately writing a threnodic poem to us, hoping
we will read
the lines appearing on the sidewalks, streets, bridges, buildings,
bodies, faces. But
we do not read -- and what hope for a poem, like this one,
struggling to translate,
with nothing but words, these dark fault lines of our disintegration
SOURCE: Fault Lines, poems by Kendel Hippolyte, published by
Peepal Tree Press Ltd, UK, 2012.
KENDEL HIPPOLYTE, born in
the Eastern Caribbean Island
of St. Lucia in 1952, is a poet,
playwright, and director. He
lived in Jamaica in the 1970s
where he earned a Bachelor's
Degree at the University of the
West Indies Mona campus in
Since retiring in 2007 from
teaching theater arts and
literature at the Sir Arthur
Lewis College in Castries, St.
Lucia, Hippolyte focuses on
using his skills as a writer and
dramatist to raise public
awareness and contribute to
solutions of critical social
His publication of books of
~ Fault Lines (2012), winner
of the 2013 OCM Bocas Prize
for Caribbean Literature in
~ Night Vision (2005);
~ Birthright (1997);
~ The Labyrinth (1993); and
~ Island in the Sun - Side
In 2000, Hippolyte was
awarded the St. Lucia Medal
of Merit (Gold) for Contribution
to the Arts.
If you want to feel what it's like to live on a small island,
vulnerable to the wounded thrashings of world
capitalism in crisis, an island where livelihoods are
destroyed at the flourish of a Brussel's bureaucrat's pen,
where Paradise is a tourist cruise ship come to remind
you of your neo-colonial status, where global
consumerism has poisoned the ambitions of the young
into drugs, crime and violence, then the poems in Fault
Lines, dread, urgent prophecies of "a black sky beyond,"
are indispensible guides. With the verbal urgency of
Ginsberg's Howl, a visionary imagination that shares the
company of Blake, Fault Lines confirms Kendel
Hippolyte's reputation as one of the Caribbean's most
~ EXCERPT FROM INTRODUCTION OF FAULT LINES BY KENDEL
HIPPOLYTE, PEEPAL TREE PRESS LTD, UK, 2012.
Fault Lines should not be interpreted as a collection of
doom and gloom poetry. Rather, its poetry is focused on
the harsh reality of what small, island states like St.
Lucia currently face. Other poems such as “Reggae
Rant” (26), an homage to Kamau Brathwaite, serve as a
jolting reminder of the power of poetry and words to help
us make sense of our current situation and inspire us to
seek a way out.
~ EXCERPT FROM PERSONAL TRIBUTE BY GRENADA-BORN
JOURNALIST DAVID CAVE, JULY 2012.
PEEPAL TREE PRESS / UK