Fault Lines by Kendel Hippolyte

by Shivanee Ramlochan, Paper Based Blogger


Here’s the second in our series of posts on the 2013 OCM Bocas Prize shortlist! Today, we’re peering into the covers of Kendel Hippolyte’s fifth collection, Fault Lines, winner of the category prize for poetry. Published by Peepal Tree Press in 2012, the work further establishes Hippolyte as “perhaps the outstanding Caribbean poet of his generation”, unstinting praise bestowed on him in the Heinemann Book of Caribbean Poetry.

Marion Bethel, the chair of this year’s Bocas poetry judging panel, describes Fault Lines as “a singular achievement”. Furthermore, the official response from the judging panel indicates the unanimously high praise that St. Lucian poet and dramatist’s work received: “[The collection] demonstrates Hippolyte’s excellent, all-round craftsmanship as a poet. His voice and cadence are unique and distinctive.”

I was no less enthralled — I’ve remarked to anyone who’ll listen that these poems are imbued with the rhythm and sound of the island chain. They speak to, and about, our multiple islanders’ selves with clarity and insight; they document the natural and man-made world, paying close attention to the interstices that are mappable between both. Every  shoreline and schoolchild becomes significant beneath the poet’s gaze; nothing is trivial or commonplace except in our hesitant recriminations of ourselves. Hippolyte writes the human condition both for grandness and for frailty, and the result is poetry that demands to be shared and read aloud, in resonant tones. Thankfully, those both unacquainted and familiar with Hippolyte’s work will have the chance to hear him read from Fault Lines at this year’s festival: a rare and glorious opportunity to hear the lyrical words coming even more vividly to life.