by Hippolyte, Kendel
Because we see with history,
it is difficult to see through it. And yet we must
or we become it, become nothing else but history.
It is this challenge, laid down in the powerful title poem of this collection, which Kendel Hippolyte takes up in Night Vision. And the history that Hippolyte penetrates is a history of the change overtaking the island of St. Lucia. As town becomes city and city spreads like a cancer, the poet's searching verse finds among the waste of humanity, nature, and culture a microcosm of the transforming Caribbean-from tradition, community, rooted identity, to social fragmentation, isolation, uncertainty. And yet, in the personal, away from the daytime public glare, Night Vision also finds the possibility of renewal. Engaging society and self, the poet's dialogue is conducted in a range of poetic voices and styles-the traditional forms of sonnet, villanelle, triolet, echo poem, as well as dramatic monologues in Caribbean English idioms and rhythms of speech; poems written to the metrics of blues and rap alongside free verse poems that expand in long-breath incantatory lines and contract in miniaturist forms as concise as graffiti. The joyful linguistic energy of the poems is perhaps what makes them, and us, look beyond the glaring reality they contemplate to a more hopeful, if nighttime, vision.
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