Within carefully crafted formal structures – and some experimentation with traditional forms – he finds the space to give his voice and persona free rein. Whilst rooted in St. Lucia and Caribbean culture, he takes the whole world as his arena – as much at home writing about Boston as Castries.
Undoubtedly the foremost Caribbean Christian writer of his generation, his is 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.
As Derek Walcott observes: “Robert Lee has been a scrupulous poet, that’s the biggest virtue that he has, and it’s not a common virtue in poets, to be scrupulous and modest in the best sense, not to over-extend the range of the truth of his emotions, not to go for the grandiose. He is a Christian poet obviously. 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.”
John Robert Lee is one of the group of significant Saint Lucian writers who are the younger contemporaries of Nobel laureate Derek Walcott.