It is simultaneously published by Xlibris (USA) and Mahanaim Publishers (St. Lucia). It represents a selection of the poet’s poems of faith written over 35 years and includes work from earlier collections with new work.
The Xlibris edition, available from all major online booksellers, is a full-color publication, designed as a coffee-table book. The majority of the photographs that illustrate the texts are the work of Lee, who describes himself as “an amateur photographer.” The book is available in hardcover, softcover and Ebook formats.
The Mahanaim edition, produced completely in St. Lucia, and designed by local artist and graphic designer Raphael ‘Rinvelle’ Philip, varies only slightly from the Xlibris edition, with the addition of one poem and some other photographs. It is printed by The Document Centre, Castries, and designed by St. Lucian painter and graphic artist, Raphael ‘Rinvelle’ Philip.
The Cover photo features St. Lucia’s highest mountain, Morne Gimie (3,145 ft) and was taken by Lee from Plateau, Babonneau.
With the publication of Derek Walcott’s 25 Poems in 1948, St. Lucian writers have always published their work at home, even after international publishers released their books.
Writers following have continued this tradition, thus contributing to the growth of a publishing tradition among local writers. The majority of Lee’s works have been produced and printed in St. Lucia, though now, like some of his contemporaries, his work is among those issued by international publishers.
In 2008, his elemental: selected poems was published by Peepal Tree Press in the UK. Other publications include Canticles (2007), Artefacts (2000), Saint Lucian (1988) and Vocation (1975).
In 2003, he edited an anthology of St. Lucian poetry and art entitled Roseau valley and other poems for Brother George Odlum. In 2006, he co-edited with poet and playwright Kendel Hippolyte Saint Lucian Literature and Theatre: an Anthology of reviews, published by the Cultural Development Foundation.
He has recently completed a Bibliography of St. Lucian Creative Writing 1948-2012, to be released by the Cultural Development Foundation later this year. He writes an occasional blog at www.mahanaimnotes.blogspot.com. He created MAHANAIM Publishing.
Increasingly, local writers are turning to print-on-demand companies like Xlibris for publication of their work, with the access these give to online booksellers and Ebook versions.
John Robert Lee has been described as “the foremost Caribbean Christian writer of his generation” with a “truly incarnational view of faith, anchored in the reality of human experience and expressed in richly textured images of Caribbean landscapes, dress, street life, music, dance and his native Creole language.”
The selected poems in Sighting and other poems of faith mark the pilgrim’s progress of this writer over three decades. In the poems he sees his life and experiences through the lens of the Christian faith, yet, in the words of Nobel laureate Derek Walcott, his Saint Lucian contemporary, “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.”
His poetry is rooted in the flesh and blood reality of his times and experience, even as he looks beyond to the transcendent promises of his faith.
St. Lucia, Boston, the Copiapo mine rescue, the Haitian earthquake of 2010 are the scenes to which he turns his perceptive gaze. The poems are accessible to anyone who loves a craftsman that transforms language into startling and provocative images.
The MAHANAIM edition of Sighting and other poems of faith will soon be available at local bookstores. Part of the proceeds from sales of the book will go to the Jubilee Trust Fund.