Friday, January 15, 2010

Haiti: history and poets

Frederick Douglass on Haiti:

"...though we are large and Haiti is small; though we are strong and Haiti is weak; though we are a continent and Haiti is bounded on all sides by the sea, there may come a time when even in the weakness of Haiti there may be strength to the United States."

Lecture on Haiti by the
HON. FREDERICK DOUGLASS, Ex-Minister to Haiti, at The Haitian Pavilion on the occasion of the Dedication Ceremonies, World's Fair, Jackson Park,Chicago, Jan. 2d, 1893
TWO HAITIAN POETS, Léon Laleau and Jacques Roumain, from the Oregon Literary Review:

These two poets represent Haitian voices from the early part of the 20th century, a period when black intellectuals, influenced by the voices of the Harlem Renaissance, began to question their relationship with Europe and affirm their African heritage.
Betrayal (by Léon Laleau)

This unrelenting heart, whose rhythm suits
Neither my language nor my clothing
And into which bite, like jaws of a trap,
Borrowed sentiments and European
Customs—Do you feel this suffering
This despair unlike any other
Of domesticating, with words from France,
This heart that came to me from Senegal?

Introducing Open Gate: An anthology of Haitian creole poetry by Paul Laraque, Haiti Progres "his Week in Haiti," Vol. 19 no. 42, 2–8 January 2002

A version of the following text was read by the author
Paul Laraque at the Poetry Project in Manhattan on Dec. 19, 2001. The event—which featured readings by other Haitian poets including Max Manigat, Pierre-Richard Narcisse, Cauvin Paul, and Denizi Lauture, as well as North American poet Jack Hirschman—spotlighted Open Gate, the first bilingual collection of modern Haitian Creole poetry available to English readers.

The piece concludes with the following Creole verses by Laraque translated into English by Jack Hirschman, who
was also an internationalist who forged great friendships with important personalities like Langston Hughes, Nicolas Guillen, R L C James etc…

legzil san ou ta lanfh
ou rache-m lan bouch dezespwa
lan fredi ou pote chalh
ou se limyh lan fhnwa.

exile without you would be hell
you pulled me from the mouth of despair
in the cold you bring fire
you're the light in the darkness
More Haitian poets

Categorized links to documents about the political, economic, social and cultural history of Haiti. Includes history of language and literature and additional resources.

1 comment:

  1. And now Tomas is bringing more grief to and destruction. Let's hope the hurricane skips Haiti and doesn't delay the departure of shelters destined for reassembly on Haiti


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