After more than two centuries of political strife, successive coups d’état, authoritarian governments, international interventions, and natural disasters, President Duvalier’s pronouncement that “It is the destiny of the people of Haiti to suffer,” seems valid. Moderator Hector Duarte Jr. and Haitian authors M.J. Fievre, Fabienne Josaphat, and Katia D. Ulysse will discuss Haiti’s recent history, viewed through the prism of literature — from the days of Papa Doc Duvalier, to the tumultuous reign of President Aristide, to the earthquake that displaced more than 1.5 million people.
Every year, Miami brings into its heart hundreds of writers. The Book Fair International is one of the largest in the US. I hope you will be able to join us.
THe list of authors include Salman Rhusdie, Sandra Cisneros, Marlon James, Tananarive Due, Alexandra Fuller, Amy Tan, Cindy Crawford, Congressman John Lewis, Joyce Carol Oates, Rosie Perez. Get the full list here.
Haiti Cultural Exchange kicks off a fantastic series today, 9/19/15: Revolution/Revolisyon. HCX could not have selected a better artist to get this program going. Here is a video of her Tedx Talk in 2013. If you’re in Brooklyn this afternoon, stop by the Brooklyn Public Library.
Saturday, September 19th | 1-3pm
Brooklyn Public Library | 10 Grand Army Plaza | Brooklyn, NY
Take the 2 or 3 train to Grand Army Plaza
The following statement was written by Gina A. Ulysse for Haiti Cultural Exchange:
A Little Meditation on Revolution and Liberty
If there were two words most emblematic of Haiti and Haitians, revolution and liberty would be my choices. One is our rightful claim to glory, a glory still denied, as pursuit of the other remains quite elusive. Overused terminologies, archaic narratives born of socially limited gazes ascribed to us, continue to fail to capture complexities that have always been ours. Revolution and liberty are not just part of our foundational scripts— a fundamental factor of global history, which ultimately forged reordering of humanity #1804— they are also a persistent common thread in our dailyness, expressive practices, which are in constant states of renewal. For us as a nation, a people diverse, an unevenly positioned part of a growing and overstretched diaspora lòt bò dlo, revolution and liberty have been discursive and practical blueprints integral to how we see, make and remake ourselves and our differences. Indeed, we can boldly assert that we hold near monopoly to unmatched creative survivalism. Yet, while we bled and gained our freedom from slavery, we certainly cannot claim to have ever possessed full liberty. The unfinished business of the revolution is a universal quest for blackness, a relic with too often fatal impact on a massive scale that is felt and lived every single moment of every day by one too many. We have become too intimate with struggle that has taken form in economic enslavement, occupations, dictatorships, exile, statelessness, faux performances of democracy, and torment. Indeed, we endure turbulent times inside and outside our borders and diasporas. These oppressive restrictions demand alerted and open consciousness, inventive and critical responses, strategies, and dedicated action. We have never been reducible to our conditions. We hold promise to achieving self-possession, pou nou vin mèt-tèt nou. It is in every breath that comes out of bodies pondering aspirations determined to tap into that revolutionary spirit to envision and chart new paths to fuller liberation.
A country cannot be defined solely by the catastrophic events it endures. One cursory glance at today’s world yields inumerable instances of man-made autrocities and natural disasters: earthquakes, avalanches, floods, and temperatures so high that roads melt. There’s no need to go to the movies for a horror flick nowaways. Certain sub-human groups are hellbent on delivering the most terrifying images to your front door and via mobile devices. However, as long as artists continue to deconstruct the evil and render it somewhat digestible, life, love, and light will triumph.
Check out this poem by Leslie Sauray. He wrote it days after the earthquake tried but failed to destroy Haiti five years ago.
AFTERSHOCKS by Leslie Sauray
As the ashes clear and we move away rubble
You see my people still standing
Still running, even if we stumble
We’ve been down worse roads
We have broken many chains
Shaky grounds have been around
Long before the earthquakes came
The aftershocks are the souls
of those in the after life
trying to wake us all up
so we can continue to fight
The television can’t show
the smell and the screams
So you only got a small picture
even on a big screen
It was one of those events that would forever change the way we tell time. In these post 9/11 years, not a day has gone by that we are not reminded of that hellish Tuesday morning. Our prayers remain with those who perished. Love , Light, Comfort, and Strength to the ones who lost their beloved. We remember.