Easton Lee, Talented Chinese-Jamaican Poet

Our spotlight in March is on Easton Lee, a very talented Jamaican poet. I enjoyed reading his collection, From Behind the Counter: Poems from a rural Jamaican Experience.

Lee was born in the town of Wait-a-bit (Yes, Jamaica has these interesting place names!) in the western Jamaica parish of Trelawny to a Chinese father and a Jamaican mother of mixed ancestry. The poems in From Behind the Counter relate his experience as a child working behind the counter of his parents' grocery store in rural Jamaica in the 1930s.

Most of the Chinese who came to Jamaica eventually set up small businesses such as grocery shops and other enterprises. They have made tremendous contributions to the economic and social development of Jamaica.

I am particularly pleased to focus on Easton Lee this month and to highlight the contributions of Chinese Jamaicans to the Jamaican and Caribbean literary scene. I often get surprised reactions whenever I share that Jamaica has a fairly sizeable Chinese and East Indian population (our motto is in fact Out of Many, One People).

Some of my favorite poems from the collection are: My Mother is a People, Who Fa Granny, Outside Pickney and Negril Sunset (If you have been to Negril, you will definitely appreciate Negril Sunset).

I hope you will enjoy the postings this month on this creative son of the Jamaican soil!

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