This year is the 40th anniversary of the workers’ education association Ledikasyon pu Travayer and on the occasion it has published the first-ever anthology of poems by novelist, activist and LPT member, Lindsey Collen.
The book launch, a well-attended and gentle occasion, was held on the evening of Thursday 16 February in the magic atmosphere inside the LPT bookshop space at Grand River North West Port Louis. Present were poetry lovers, adult literacy students, LPT and LALIT members, making for an enthusiastic whole.
The anthology is titled Laport La, and the name is taken from the title of the first poem in the collection. All the 26 poems are in Mauritian Kreol. There are original poems, found poems, translations and adaptations. There are short poems, and long narrative poems. There is even a prose poem. And a poem that borders on the genre of nonsense poems.
The launch speech by Pascal Nadal was both witty and educative, both breathtaking and laid back. He introduced all of us present to the ancient Greek concept of ekphrastic poetry, and read from the poem “Kur Literesi Bosonz get Tablo Demigro” (a painting by Danièle Hitié,who was amongst those present) to make his point about the close, minutious description in words, of the detail of a work of visual art.
Alain Ah-Vee gave an ever-new talk on the history of the remarkable association, Ledikasyon pu Travayer, and in particular of its publishing history, and the link this has with the two main aims: adult literacy and mother tongue promotion.
The short poems read were each a gem of reading.
Vincent Pellegrin presented with passion and daring the witty poem “Ana Fleri-O”, the Kurt Schwitters’ signature poem translated into Kreol by Lindsey.
Begum Badullah read the found poem “Guernica as seen by the Thursday Women’s Literacy Group”, reflecting in her rendering, the surprise and the feeling of discovery the women went through as they discovered the painting.
Sarah Jane Naraina read “De Lede pu Mo Mama”, with a heartrending tone for the ending, referring to the present of a thimble for her mother “pu protez u/ kan u rapyeste linz/ kuma u rapyeste mo nom/ a sakfwa lavi bles li”.
Nuckiren Pyeeandee’s reading of the Kreol version of William Blake’s divine poem Tiger translated by Lindsey and Ally Hosenbokus, was evocative, capturing the awe and wonder that Blake created.
The formal part of the launch was followed by informal conversations outdoors over snacks and drinks.
The book sells at Rs100, and was published after a demand for photocopies gradually built up for poems Lindsey had written and that people had read, one at a time at different Conferences, Labour Day celebrations, End of Slavery commemoration days and so on over the past 15-20 years.