Michele Jessica Fievre @ Livres en Folie

dsc-1Livres en Folie is an annual book fair created in 1995, on the initiative of UNIBANK and Le Nouvelliste. Held every year on Corpus Christi day (May-June), this book fair has become one of the biggest cultural events in Haiti.

 

This year, the event will take place at Parc Historique de la Canne à Sucre on May 30. Michele Jessica Fievre will be there! Read the VoicesfromHaiti INNERview with Michele here.

ABOUT “SO SPOKE THE EARTH” In 2009, Women Writers of Haitian Descent, Inc. (WWOHD) sent out a call for literary submissions, structured by the following theme: the Haiti I knew, the Haiti I know, the Haiti I want to know. The anthology was to be published in 2010 in the United States. All the writers included were Haitian women, since WWOHD’s primary mission is, after all, to encourage the development of Haitian women writers and to foster greater public awareness and appreciation of their work.

On January 12, 2010, in Haiti, there was a terrible noise of earth shaking and houses cracking. And then the cries of men and women, and a great dust cloud taking Port-au-Prince in its fist.  A few months after the tragedy, the stories, poems, and essays poured from everywhere into our inbox, and we, at WWOHD, realized that we needed to approach the book differently. We continued seeking submissions, this time from both Haitian and non-Haitian writers, including both men and women.

M.J. Fievre's SO SPOKE THE EARTH

M.J. Fievre’s SO SPOKE THE EARTH

So Spoke the Earth is now a multilingual anthology of literature about Haiti that explores its past, present and future as experienced by its diverse inhabitants—both native and non-native—over the past four decades. Featuring the accounts of both Haitian and non-Haitian writers and their attempts to grapple with the impact left on them by their personal experiences with the island-nation, the anthology presents each work in its original language: English, French and Haitian-Creole.

Through various narratives and poems, the literary legacy and unique history of the island are highlighted in content and style. This collection is unprecedented, yet uses successful techniques from preceding anthologies. As in Lillian Castillo-Speed’s anthology Latina: Women’s Voices from the Borderlands, the work includes various genres (fiction, nonfiction, and poetry). Like Edwidge Danticat’s anthology The Butterfly’s Way: Voices from the Haitian Dyaspora in the United States, the book has a thematic structure according to the contributions received.

The anthology is divided in three sections:

Lanmò Mòde Toupatou (Death Was Lurking)

Death and tragedy are the main themes of this section. While some of the pieces offer a vibrant account of life in Haiti and explore the specificities of rituals such as funeral rites, others speak directly to the effects of the January 2010 earthquake. Included are first and third-person accounts of the moments following the tragedy, stories of the search for survivors, and an exploration of the different shapes of grief after the loss (both in Haiti and in the Diaspora). Each of these narratives is presented in English.

Tout Pwason Ka Manje Moun (And Danger Came Rushing In)

The expressiveness of the Haitian people is evident in their rich storytelling tradition. The second section of the anthology, written in French and Creole, explores Haitian folklore with modern legends and mysteries.  Also included are stories about 1.12.10, and poems about Ayiti Cheri.

Verite Dekwoke Baton (And The Truth Shall Make You Mad)

The third section addresses the topic of Haiti’s economic problems, and the demonstrated effects of the misery that has accompanied them, such as the presence of child slavery and the strained relations between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, where thousands of Haitians have labored in sugarcane fields for generations. This section answers the question: “How do Haitians deal with their problems?” It ends with a piece about the history of Haitian carnival, since kanaval is probably the only time when the people allow themselves to forget their heartache and raw pain.

This is an important anthology about Haiti in that it is a celebration of Haitian spirit, multiculturalism and diversity.

Also by M. J. Fievre:  Picture 1

 

Harvesting Memories: A Different Mother’s Day Story ~ written by Zazou Pierre

Manmie-4My mother joined forces with the earth a month and a half ago. But when I close my eyes, I can feel her all around me. Her spirit is everywhere. We’ll remain connected; she’ll always be part of me. Our bond was and will always be spiritual. I sense her love with every breath I take.

My mom was not a demanding woman. She wasn’t big on material things, but she valued affection. I wasn’t always the perfect daughter. There were things that mom didn’t quite like about me, like my hair and my terrible church attendance record. She thought I was a little crazy and rebellious. She cursed America for the ‘libètinaj’ living there instilled in me. I knew I would not change certain things about myself to please my mother. In being true to myself, I was able to be honest and respectful to her. We lived in two different countries, and I was in love with my freedom. Even so, I made sure that I was the most loving rebel my mother ever knew.

At 22, I still cuddled with her. She would remind me that there wasn’t a way back into her stomach. I always tried to find ways to be closer to her; I slept in her arms whenever we were in the same house.

My mom and I had a special love affair. She was a single mom, so I called her my “Fanm dous.” It was never a big amount, but I made sure to send money for her to buy chocolate on Valentine’s Day. We had our little traditions and I know she valued every one of them.

Today, when people find out that she’s gone, they’re quick to say: “I’m sorry.” When her name comes up, I am quick to say: “My mother passed, but it’s alright, you don’t have to be sorry . . .”

Quite frankly, I don’t do too well with pity. Though I am aware that the “I’m sorry” comes from a place of care, I am sincerely okay with my mom being gone.

We do what we can with the life we are given. My mother did the best she could when she journeyed through this earth. In my eyes, she fulfilled her purpose; she left because it was her time to go. I would have loved to have my mom here a little longer, but that wasn’t written in her book of life. I’m all right with that.

We all deal with grief differently, but I figured that acceptance of one’s situation is a big step towards freedom. Though it was a painful process, I quickly accepted my mother’s death; I knew she would want me to be happy and live freely.

Zazou photographed by Ed Maximus

Zazou photographed by Ed Maximus

I never questioned the universe. I didn’t ask God why this was happening to me. I don’t know where my strength came from, but I’m sure that it’s something which Mother cultivated in me.

What alleviated the pain that came from this tragic moment are my memories: Last year, we harvested some beautiful ones together. I remember my mother’s 50th Birthday quite vividly. When I close my eyes, I hear her voice; I hear her laughter.

I see the sparkle in her eyes as she watched me cook her birthday dinner. I remember being a little nervous—so nervous that I practiced the three-course meal in my Florida home a few days before I boarded the plane to meet her in Canada. I wanted everything to be perfect.

On August 29, 2012, my mother had the perfect 50th Birthday. She was happy to be around her granddaughters. And it was the first time in 14 years that she got to spend her birthday with both of her daughters.

Things didn’t stop there.

My sister and I joined mom in Haiti in December. On New Year’s Eve, we gathered in her backyard for a late night dinner, story-telling, and laughter.

On January 1st, 2013, I woke up to the smell of mom’s soup Joumou. I was so happy that I grabbed my camera and started to take pictures of her. “Pa pran foto’m, tifi,” she said. Being the defiant child that I am, I did not put the camera away. I had no idea that it was the last soup joumou my mother would make.

On that same day, we took a trip to Kaliko Beach. I have memories of her in the water—in a state of complete relaxation.

Manmie. Photo courtesy of LZP

Manmie. Photo courtesy of LZP

Now that she’s physically gone from this earth, I am happy to be able to say that I have no regrets. I am not left wondering, ‘what if…?” Mwen pa nan si’m te konnen. Si’m te konnen li t’ap mouri, m ta di’l m renmen’l. Si’m te konnen mwen te padone’l, si’m te konnen mwen te vizite’l ou byen si’m te konnen mwen te konn mase pye’l lè li te fatige.

I don’t have any regrets, because I did all of those things. I showered her with love. I forgave her whenever the need presented itself. We spent 22 years loving and treating each other the best we could. I loved my mother selflessly. Before she passed, I couldn’t have imagined living without her. I thought I would go crazy if I were to lose her. How would I live? How would I breathe? Who would be my inspiration?

Well, I am making it because of the moment and memories we shared. Those things can never be taken from me. The way she made me feel or the way I made her feel are everlasting.

As you are reading this, I hope you decide to live in the moment, to cherish your mom everyday, not just when it’s a holiday. It is truly the little things and the small moments that sustain our every day existence. I hope you dance with your mother, sing to her, don’t be afraid to kiss and hold her hand while you’re in public.

I don’t know what makes your mother happy, but you should make it your duty to find out. Surprise her with trips to the spa, clean the kitchen after she cooks, wash her hair, and massage her feet. Take her around the world if you can afford to, talk to her, remember to seek her advice. The majority of the time, momma really knows best. Renmen manman’w, pa jis nan tèt ou, asire’w ke li konnen ke’w renmen’l. Montre’l sa.

But be sure to love her unconditionally. Allow your love to be bigger than everything else. I loved my mother like there was no tomorrow and now that she’s gone, I can live a happy life knowing that I did what I could to make her smile.

My mom was a Queen. She never walked with her head down, even on her worst day. She was honest but never rude. I can live with myself as a human being because I always try to emulate her. She passed down some of her characteristics to me and those are the things that make me lovable and tolerable in today’s society. When someone says that they love my character, what they’re really doing is complimenting my mother.

I understand today is a special day, but every day you spend with your mom is incredible. Don’t allow your love to have any boundaries.  To those of us, whose mothers are presently one with the earth, tap into your inner self and realize that she exists within you.

 Manmie-1

Fêtes des Mères ~ Holiday for Mothers

Haiti June 2010 096-1Happy Mother’s Day to every Manman in Haiti and in the Dyaspora!

Happy Mother’s Day. Again.

Happy Day to all Moms in Haiti and in the Diaspora

Photo of Pititfi, Kool Kid Extraordinaire.

 If you’re a Haitian mom in our beloved Haiti or in the Diaspora, this is your day to celebrate. Again. Enjoy it.  If you’re a dad playing Mom and uncle and grandma and sister and cousin, etc., this is your day, too. Enjoy it. Happy “I got your back!” day. Happy “Bon Jan Fanmi” Day. That’s what you do. That’s what we do. Protect our children. 9 months to forever, yes? Tout Paran’m yo, kenbe toujou.