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About this poet

Kendel Hippolyte was born in Castries, St. Lucia, in 1952. In the 1970s he studied and lived in Jamaica, receiving a BA from the University of the West Indies in 1976.

Hippolyte is the author of several books of poetry, including Fault Lines (Peepal Tree Press, 2012), Night Vision (Triquarterly Books/Northwestern University Press, 2005), and Birthright (Peepal Tree Press, 1997). Of his work, Kwame Dawes writes, “One gets the sense of a writer working in a laboratory patiently, waiting for the right image to come, and then placing it there only when it comes.”

Hippolyte, who is also a playwright and a director, is known for writing in Standard English, the varieties of Caribbean English, and in Kewyol, his nation language. He is the editor of Confluence: Nine St. Lucian Poets (The Source, 1988) and the author of several plays, including The Drum-Maker in 1976 and Triptych in 2000. With his wife, the poet Jane King, he founded the Lighthouse Theatre Company in St. Lucia in 1984.

In 2000, Hippolyte received the St. Lucia Medal of Merit for his service in the arts. He is also the recipient of the Bridget Jones Travel Award and Minvielle & Chastanet Fine Arts Awards in both literature and directing, among other honors and awards.

Hippolyte taught theater arts and literature at Sir Arthur Lewis Community College from 1992 to 2007. He lives in St. Lucia.


Selected Bibliography

Fault Lines (Peepal Tree Press, 2012)
Night Vision (Triquarterly Books/Northwestern University Press, 2005)
Birthright (Peepal Tree Press, 1997)
The Labyrinth (The Source, 1993)
Island in the Sun – Side Two (V.W.I. Extra Mural Department, 1980)

Ways

They were walking—he, left she, right—on a winding path below the speckled foliage,
he speaking quietly, she listening easily, so neither saw or heard at first
when the ground cracked and a long fissure wavered ahead of them along the path

and they began to walk on either side of it on parallel tracks while he kept talking
just a bit more loudly and she strained—but just a bit—to listen, and at first
they did not notice since they were still walking—he|she—in the same direction

and even when their parallel companionable journeys brought them finally
to where the track split, forking into a serpent’s tongue, transforming the pathway’s single I
into a Y… they paused only slightly, looking ahead, each one, into the distance,

then continued—he, crossing to right she, crossing to left—both barely noticing
he was speaking more loudly, she was listening harder, and both straining now,
he, looking at her over his left shoulder she, looking at him over her right

and how long they misconversed like that, neither remembered afterward, only that
this was the only way that they could keep with insight of each other
although his voice to her, her form to him, as they continued, became fainter

and they continued walking, neither seeing where his own\ /her own journey led because
each needed to keep looking at the other to feel oriented, and in truth it was easier
to see each other’s path, and as their separate journeys widened into ways apart,

he began shouting with all he was worth but she could not hear him across the distance
and she bared herself till she was naked but he could not see her across the distance
and they continued, they continue—shouting and unheard\ /naked and unseen—along their ways, cleft

and if they could, just once, look far enough into the distance, and just once, behind,
they’d see the way all led back to the Y… and they would find, again and yet beyond again,
their journey.


From Fault Lines. Copyright © 2012 by Kendel Hippolyte. Used with the permission of Peepal Tree Press.

From Fault Lines. Copyright © 2012 by Kendel Hippolyte. Used with the permission of Peepal Tree Press.

Kendel Hippolyte

Kendel Hippolyte

Kendel Hippolyte was born in Castries, St. Lucia, in 1952. He is the author of several books of poetry, including Fault Lines (Peepal Tree Press, 2012).

by this poet

poem

For days, weeks at a time, i lose whatever it is
which keeps my senses softened to the sentience of the earth,
to hillside grass running lightly before a silver wind
or a far slope rippling like a muscled shoulder
or how the gradine, faceted pebbles under me will rasp
as i ease in closer,

poem

“What is poetry which does not save nations or people?” – Czselaw Milosz

Ask the question.
Not once but forty-nine times.
And, perhaps at the fiftieth,
you will make an answer.
Or perhaps not. Then
ask it again. This time
till seventy times seven. Ask
as

poem

Towards the end he got the d.t.’s. He would see
a smiling girl in a white first communion dress
waving at him. He’d smile back, point her out to me
and i stopped arguing because she, more than i, could bless
even a little, those last days when my presence
only made heavier a weight of guilt