A Valuable Secret: InnerView with Madison Smartt Bell

Photograph by Alyx Kellington

Madison Smartt Bell is the author of sixteen novels, including The Washington Square Ensemble (1983), Waiting for the End of the World (1985),Straight Cut (1986), The Year of Silence (1987), Doctor Sleep (1991), Save Me, Joe Louis (1993), Ten Indians (1997)  and Soldier’s Joy, which received the Lillian Smith Award in 1989.  Bell has also published two collections of short stories: Zero db (1987) and Barking Man (1990).  In 2002, the novel Doctor Sleep was adapted as a film, Close Your Eyes, starring Goran Visnjic, Paddy Considine, and Shirley Henderson.  Forty Words For Fear, an album of songs co-written by Bell and  Wyn Cooper and inspired by the novel Anything Goes,was released by Gaff Music in 2003; other performers include Don Dixon, Jim Brock, Mitch Easter and Chris Frank.

Bell’s eighth novel, All Soul’s Rising, was a finalist for the 1995 National Book Award and the 1996 PEN/Faulkner Award and winner of the 1996 Anisfield-Wolf award for the best book of the year dealing with matters of race. All Souls Rising, along with the second and third novels of his Haitian Revolutionary trilogy, Master of the Crossroads and The Stone That The Builder Refused, is available in a uniform edition from Vintage Contemporaries. Toussaint Louverture A Biography was published by Pantheon in 2007.  Devil’s Dream a novel based on the career of Confederate Cavalry General Nathan Bedford Forrest, was published by Pantheon in 2009.  Bell’s latest novel, The Color of Night, will appear from Vintage Contemporaries in April 2011.    

Born and raised in Tennessee, he has lived in New York and in London and now lives in Baltimore, Maryland. A graduate of Princeton University (A.B 1979) and Hollins College (M.A. 1981), he has taught in various creative writing programs, including theIowa Writers’ Workshop and the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars. Since 1984 he has taught in the Goucher College Creative Program, where he is currently Professor of English, along with his wife, the poet Elizabeth Spires.  Bell served as Director of the Kratz Center for Creative Writing at Goucher College from 1999 to 2008.  In 2008 he received the Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Voicesfromhaiti InnerView English Text


AZOR: A National Treasure. . .Gone Too Soon

Less than a month after his 46th birthday, Lénord Fortuné of Racine Mapou de Azor went the way of the ancestors. Our sincere condolences to his family, his friends, and the wide audience that will always treasure the man and the genius he so willingly gave.

News of his passing shook the ocean floor, sending tremors throughout the known world.  Haitians and fans of Rasin Mizik mourn the transition of this Voice.  Life may be ephemeral, but the art Azor produced is everlasting.

Haiti has lost another national treasure. Nou pèdi yon kokenn trezò. The roots of this Mapou run deep in the ground, however.  In good or bad weather, they must sprout again.  Somehow.

Rest in peace.

Kreyòl Pale

Ledikasyon Malediksyon

Sa ki konnen konnen . . .

Sa ki konnen konnen lontan se pa danfans ak cheve long ki bay lespri.

Those who know have known a long time that long hair does not bring intelligence.

Pawòl granmoun la di nou resitasyon repetisyon bèl fraz franse kèlèkèkè, gwo mo, bouch pwenti tilititir, pa gen dwa fè lam veritab monte tab.

Wise elders’ words teach us that repeating fancy French phrases — with lips pointed just so — won’t make meals climb the legs of a dinner table.


Kreyòl Pale


Living Legend: Buyu Ambroise

Respect, Love, and Chapo ba to Buyu Ambroise. Yon gwo Thank You for the music that continues to inspire us.