Monday, July 11, 2011

John Robert Lee

John Robert Lee, of St. Lucia, is a well-established poet whose writing has been anthologized in such books as The Penguin Book of Caribbean Verse, and The Faber Book of Contemporary Caribbean Short Stories. His collected poems, Elemental, appeared in the UK from Peepal Tree Press in 2008.

He has been involved in theatre as both an actor and a director — has expressed his faith as a preacher, writer and broadcaster — has worked as a professional librarian, and in radio and television as a broadcaster and producer.

Fellow St. Lucian poet Derek Walcott (who won the Nobel Prize in 1992) called John Robert Lee “a scrupulous poet"; he continued, “it’s not a common virtue in poets, to be scrupulous and modest in the best sense, not to over-extend the range of the truth of his emotions, not to go for the grandiose. He is a Christian poet obviously. You don’t get in the poetry anything that is, in a sense, preachy or self-advertising in terms of its morality. He is a fine poet.”

The following comes from his chapbook Canticles (2007):

Canticle XXXI

---------It is clear she was beguiled by the Serpent’s sinuous
-----flatteries.
-----------But he, was he — seduced by her full-curving softnesses,
------------------------------allured by those flittering
---------lashes — tripped into the parting chasms of her sweet
-----flirtatious
----------------mouth? (So says the old poet.) Or, eavesdropping,
Curious Man, did he wonder about the Crystal Gate, the proffered
-----dominion,
-------------the deadly enticements of wisdom? Whichever, flouting
-------------the order he chose.
-----------------------------Just one more query — those tunics of
-----covering skin,
--------were those the first-born lambs they had loved above all
-----others?

(Posted with permission of the poet)

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the award-winning author of the poetry collections Poiema (Wipf & Stock) and So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed (Rubicon Press). They are both available at: www.dsmartin.ca