Haitian Literature

Musical Artist Edmond Dédé

In addition to contributing to Louisiana literature, Haitian émigrés were also part of the musical scene. The most celebrated Afro-Creole musician was Edmond Dédé (1827-1901). He was born in New Orleans of free immigrant parents who entered the city in the 1809 Haitian refugee movement. The son of a musician, Dédé was a violin prodigy and studied with the city’s best instructors, both white and black. In 1847 he moved to Mexico to continue his violin studies in a less racially repressive environment. In 1851, however, he returned to New Orleans, where the Afro-Creole community raised funds to send him to France to complete his education. After study at the Paris Conservatory of Music, he embarked on a long and successful career in France as a composer and conductor. Though he visited relatives in New Orleans in 1893 and performed a series of widely acclaimed concerts in the city, he returned to France the following year.

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Ida Salomon Faubert (1882-1969) was a Haitian poet in the first half of the 20th century. Faubert enjoyed a comfortable existence as the only child of former Haitian president Lysius Salomon. After her father’s overthrow from power, Faubert was sent to France where she was raised by her mother’s relatives. While she eventually came back to Haiti for numerous visits, Faubert belonged to Paris’ bon vivant scenery. Her time in Paris, nevertheless, did not manage to erase her Haitian origins. Haiti was indeed a central theme in her work and she surrounded herself with other Haitians émigrés.

Though the name Ida Faubert is mostly remembered by Haitian literature enthusiasts, her importance for Haiti’s literary culture is undeniable. Part of the La Ronde literary generation, Faubert was amongst the first women to seriously publish in Haiti and to be both read and respected amongst her peers. Some of her more famous works include Cœur des Îles (1939) and Histoires d'Haïti et d'ailleurs (1959).

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Girl Power: Books for Bold Women


Smart, strong women of all ages deserve books filled with smart, strong female characters. Luckily, there are many young adult books with protagonists who speak out for justice, make courageous choices, and know that womanhood is beautiful. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of recommendations for the woman who expects her fiction to be as bold as she is. From Haitian short fiction to literature of the southern immigrant experience, these books will make you believe in girl power

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“I don’t look Haitian” - a poem

If anyone knows her name, please share. She’s amazing!

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I was just re-watching Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Ted Talk on “The Danger of a Single Story,” and it made me realize just how lucky I was, as a child, to have access to children’s books written by Haitian authors, set in Haiti. One such author was Margaret Papillon. Her books showed young children the beauty, magic, and wealth of the Haitian culture. They allowed us to celebrate our culture before we even truly knew what it was. 

I didn’t understand it then, but now I realize, one of the reasons I loved her books was that I could imagine myself as the main characters; picturing myself as smart, curious, and adventurous. 

This is important. Representation matters.This matters. 

*I need to go back and read them as an adult to see if there are serious issues. 

Create dangerously, for people who read dangerously. This is what I’ve always thought it meant to be a writer. Writing, knowing in part that no matter how trivial your words may seem, someday, somewhere, someone may risk his or her life to read them.

Coming from where I come from, with the history I have - having spent the first twelve years of my life under both dictatorships of Papa Doc and his son, Jean-Claude - this is what I’ve always seen as the unifying principle among all writers. This is what, among other things, might join Albert Camus and Sophocles to Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Osip Mandelstam, and Ralph Waldo Emerson to Ralph Ellison.

Somewhere, if not now, then maybe years in the future, a future that we may have yet to dream of, someone may risk his or her life to read us. Somewhere, if not now, then maybe years in the future, we may also save someone’s life, because they have given us a passport, making us honorary citizens of their culture.

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-“Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist At Work” by Edwidge Danticat.

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This gave me serious chills last night.  Need to own this book now.

That night at the supper table, just as he had during every other difficult moment in his life–he reminded himself of his own personal creed, that life was neither something you defended by hiding nor surrendered calmly on other people’s terms, but something that you lived bravely, out in the open, and that if you had to lose it, you should also lose it on your own terms.
—  Edwidge Danticat, The Dew Breaker
Who is Felix Morisseau-Leroy?


                                    

FELIX MORISSEAU-Leroy was one of Haiti’s popular heroes. Through his poems, plays and articles, he was the person who made Creole, the language spoken by ordinary men and women in Haiti, as acceptable as the French taught in schools. It was thanks in no small part to his efforts that Jean-Bertrand Aristide declared it an official language when he became president in 1991, at a ceremony where Morisseau-Leroy was one of the guests of honour.

He was born in Grand Gosier, near the historic southern port of Jacmel, in 1912. His family were well-to-do mulattos, and he learnt both French and later English. It was in Jacmel that he met his wife Renee, who said she admired his prowess as a horseman; he responded that she was the main inspiration for his literature.

In the 1940s, after studying at graduate school at Columbia University in New York, he taught in Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital. It was then that he became interested in the Creole language spoken in the streets, but rarely written down. The end of the decade was one of the few periods in Haitian history when new ideas could flourish in relative freedom, and Morisseau-Leroy used the opportunity to write political poems and sketches.

But it was in 1953 with his production of the classical Greek tragedy Antigone in his own Creole version that Morisseau-Leroy really made his mark. The play was set in a rural Haitian village, with King Creon portrayed as a powerful voodoo priest. This was the first time that many Haitians realised that their oral language was capable of nuance, analysis and profundity.

Unfortunately, the 1950s also saw the Duvalier family take power in Haiti, and any chance for free expression was soon snuffed out. When Morisseau- Leroy was offered the chance of putting on Antigone in Creole in Paris, he went to France and decided to stay there, fearing he would be arrested if he returned to Haiti.

Then began an unsettled period which saw him teaching in France, Nigeria and later Ghana and Senegal, where he was important in promoting popular theatre movements. By 1981, he had moved to Miami, and was welcomed by the Haitian exile community, already creating a lively culture of their own. He was hailed as the forerunner of many of their efforts; as one of them said on his death: “He realised that for people to understand the problems, they need to be taught in their own language, not a language they don’t understand. Otherwise, they’re being mystified, they’re being shown a lack of respect.”

Despite encroaching blindness, Morisseau-Leroy continued to write a weekly column about Haiti in the periodical Haiti en Marche. He returned briefly to Haiti after the fall of the Duvaliers in 1986, and attended Aristide’s inauguration in 1991. But apart from these short trips, he preferred the memories of his home country, which he put into the work of which he was most proud: an epic novel called Les Djons d'Haiti Tom (“People of Haiti with Courage”), in which he tells the story of the people of his own town Jacmel from the time of the US invasion of 1915 to the ousting of President Aristide in 1991.

The novel was published three years ago; but perhaps the most fitting tribute to Felix Morisseau-Leroy and his influence was the staging earlier this year of his Creole version of Antigone to a packed audience in a Miami theatre: the kind of mixture of races, traditions, and languages to which he devoted his life.

Felix Morisseau-Leroy, poet and playwright: born Grand Gosier, Haiti 1912; married (two sons, one daughter); died Miami, Florida 5 September 1998.

Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/obituary-felix-morisseauleroy-1197284.html

shmurdapunk and freshmouthgoddess

I remember y'all were talking about dystopian Haitian literature. While not Haitian literature, Junot Díaz’s new short story “Monstro” deals with a sickness that takes over Hispaniola (which the characters thought started in Haiti so it plays with this “those Haitians started it” ploy) and that a Haitian child saves the day. I haven’t read all of it but its sci fi IN HISPANIOLA!!!