FRAIRS BAY, St. Martin (July 13, 2021)—The new printing of Golden Voices of S’maatin by Ruby Bute is available here at the Silk Cotton Grove Art Gallery, said Jacqueline Sample, president of House of Nehesi Publishers.
The poetry book is in its third printing. “I am happy with the quality and content … the same as the previous two. I am very pleased with the product,” said Ruby Bute on Tuesday.
Golden Voices of S’maatin was first published by House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP) in 1989, as Bute’s debut title. It became the first St. Martin bestseller from the indie press and was reprinted in 2000, said Sample.
Golden Voices of S’maatin is considered a book collector’s gem of the island’s seminal literature, “for more reasons than one,” said Sample. The cover design by Carole Mauge features classic portrait etchings of the poet by Roland Richardson, a leading Caribbean impressionist painter.
The book’s introduction was written by Felix Choisy, a statesman politician of the old school mold. Pen and ink illustrations by Mosera and Ruby Bute, who is herself a noted painter, accompany the poems.
The verse is descriptive of traditional St. Martiners and their lifeways. Choisy’s writing, like Bute’s poems in the collection, remains refreshing, introducing Bute and her work to new readers without forcing the experience to be dated, said Sample.
Choisy sets the tone in his introduction. “Many people refer to the past as an excuse for their failure to cope with the present and to plan for the future. … On the contrary, Miss Ruby Bute, who is referring to the past for the most part in Golden Voices of S’maatin, … uses it as a guiding light for the future.”
In this time of pandemic and protest around the world, what prompted the reprint of the slim volume of poems? Over 30 years ago, the book was said to be, “generative of a ‘sweet S’maatin’ pride, an intense loving warmth, … a family strength, steeped in folk values.”
Ruby Bute said that at her Silk Cotton Grove art studio, visitors from St. Martin, the USA and elsewhere, kept asking for Golden Voices of S’maatin after hearing about the book or seeing its cover online or in tourism media that featured her work.