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Lasana M. Sekou (b. 1959)

 

Lasana M. Sekou was born in San Nicolas, Aruba. He was reared in his parental homeland of St. Martin, where he received his early education at the St. Joseph School and recited his first poem at a traditional house concert before the age of nine.

the mornings are fewer
the nights longer
love is fine and full
here the fight rewards the future
and everybody else but you
makes bad coffee.

('mariposa', from 37 Poems, 2005)

Sekou--the author of eleven books of poetry, monologues, and short stories--published his first collection of poems while attending high school in New York. He graduated from the State University of New York at Stony Brook with a B.A. in political science/international relations (1982) and received his M.A. in mass communication from Howard University (1984).

Sekou returned to St. Martin in 1984, with four poetry books to his name. In the mid-1980s, he co-directed and wrote for Traditions, the island’s drama extravaganzas. In 1991, Sekou produced Fête - The First Recording of Traditional St. Martin’s Festive Music by Tanny & the Boys. He edited The Independence Papers - Readings on a New Political Status for St. Maarten/St. Martin (1990) and the landmark book National Symbols of St. Martin - A Primer (1996). Sekou’s drama and fiction, Nativity & Dramatic Monologues for Today (1988), Love Songs Make You Cry (1989), and Brotherhood of the Spurs (1997), have been required reading at York University, Kenyon College, and the University of St. Martin. His writings are taught in high schools and dramatized on stage and in carnival presentations. The St. Martin author has lectured on history, culture, politics, publishing, and literature in schools and at conferences and recited poetry at high schools, universities, community centers, and literary festivals in the Caribbean, USA, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia.

Sekou’s poetry has appeared in literary journals such as Callaloo, The Caribbean Writer, Del Caribe, The Massachusetts Review, De Gids, Revue Noir, Das Gedicht, Calabash, Prometeo, and ChickenBones. His poems have been translated into Spanish, Dutch, German, and Chinese.

From 1984 to 1996, Sekou was an editor for the Newsday newspaper. From 1997 to 1998, he was the interim director for the St. Martin (South) Government Information Service. In 2003, Sekou coordinated the Creative Writing Program of House of Nehesi Publishers. In 2004 Sekou was an International Writers Workshop visiting fellow in China. From this journey, he created 37 Poems (2005)

Sekou's awards and honors include a James Michener Fellow (University of Miami), Qualichi Award, Outstanding Young Persons (Jaycees, Netherlands Antilles and Aruba, 1991), Carlos Cooks Community Service Award (St. Thomas), St. Maarten Guardian Person of the Year (1996), Culture Time Literary Artist of the Decade (1998), Conscious Lyrics Artist of the Decade (1990s), University of St. Martin Heroes & Heroines Award (Literature, 1998), Recognition for literary excellence in the service of Caribbean unity (General Consul, Dominican Republic, 2003), and a knighthood from the Kingdom of the Netherlands (2004) for his pioneering work in book publishing and literary and cultural developments in St. Martin. The author, an advocate for St. Martin independence, “dedicated” the award to “the folks of my father’s and mother’s generation who sent us to school with that traditional sense of pride to do better for ourselves, our families, and for St. Martin but never to betray the St. Martin nation.”

For further information:  'Lasana M. Sekou, Brotherhood of the Spurs' by Valerie Combie in The Caribbean Writer, Volume 13 (1997); Love, Labor, Liberation in Lasana Sekou by Howard A Fergus (2007)  

Publications:

  • Moods for Isis - Picturepoems of Love & Struggle, 1978
  • For the Mighty Gods - An Offering, 1982
  • Images in the Yard, 1983
  • Maroon Lives - For Grenadian Freedom Fighters, 1983
  • Born Here, 1986
  • Nativity & Monologues For Today, 1988
  • Love Songs Make You Cry 1989 (short stories, introduction by Daniella Jeffry)
  • Mothernation - Poems from 1984 to 1987 (1991)
  • Quimbé - The Poetics of Sound, 1991
  • Brotherhood of the Spurs, 1997 (short stories, introduction by Joanna W.A. Rummens)
  • Big Up St. Martin - Essay & Poem, 1999 (booklet)
  • The Salt Reaper - Poems from the Flats (2004, 2005)
  • 37 Poems, 2005
  • Fête: Celebrating St. Martin’s Traditional Festive Music, 2008 (rev. ed., editor) 
  • Nativity= Nativité = Natividad, 2010 (trilingual ed.)


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