All posts by voicesfromhaiti

Josaphat-Robert Large ~ The Final INNERview with Beloved Poet and Photographer.

Josaphat-Robert Large passed away on October 28, 2017.  His family and friends miss him very much, and wish he were here to celebrate November 15, his birthday, with them.

JR was passionate about poetry and photography.  He worked diligently to master both art forms, because he felt his readers deserved his absolute best.  He weighed each word, each photograph. When he was ready to share his work with his audience, we embraced and loved it.  Josaphat-Robert Large wrote in French, Haitian Creole, and in English. He was especially fond of our native tongue, saying the language itself inspired him.

JR–a proponent of Haiti’s mother tongue— joined the ancestors on the day dedicated to celebrating Creole languages worldwide.  We miss him dearly. Rest in peace, Josaphat-Robert Large. Thank you for the rich legacy.

Click here to read Part One of the final INNERview with beloved poet and photographer, Josaphat-Robert Large.

Happy Haitian Mother’s Day 2017!

Bonne Fête des Mères to all Haitian Moms at home and in the Diaspora!

Without you, we would not be. We love and honor you.  You are the backbone of the family; the beacon, the beam and the column, the foundation, the scaffolding—the potomitan, keeping the feeble structure called life from disintegrating around your children. You are our treasure.  We need you.

kdu photo

Christianne D.,  a very special Happy Mother’s Day to you today!

Wearing an emerald dress and turban the color of lilac, Christianne looks positively regal.  Her painted fingernails shine like rubies.  She glows.  A girl only turns 102 once.  Let the fun begin!

Christianne has to be one of the wisest persons on this planet, yet she is unassuming and humble. She gives advice, only if you ask for it.

For many years now I have asked her the secret to longevity. Her answer never varies. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Learn everything you can. Don’t talk too much. Live simply. Avoid negativity. Wise people don’t go around telling everybody how wise they are; fools do.  Don’t waste time.  Stand up for yourself. 

Christianne leads by example. She laughs a lot. Laughter is the only medicine without a long list of terrible side-effects. And it’s free. Try it.

Happy everything, young lady! You are a veritable treasure. Many happy returns!

 

 

Morgan Zwerlein’s Rhythm

Feast or famine. Drought or deluge. Peace or pandemonium. We are still standing.

Within the sliver of space where the swinging pendulum pauses, the persistent drum-song of Manman Ayiti reverberates. In the centuries since our ancestors were brought to the island, the rhythms of our roots have not weakened. Through sweet and sorrowful times, this endowment sustains us.  Musicians worldwide benefit from  our lavish legacy. Some give credit where it is due; others play dumb. Their instruments may be shiny and new, but the rhythms that come out are distinctly Haitian. African. Morgan Zwerlein revels in this fact.

Music was our language, when our mouths could not speak what our eyes were forced to see.  Like secret codes, drum beats conveyed our messages. When uttering a word would have cost us our tongues, we communicated openly through music. Slave owners feared the African people’s drum so much that they outlawed the instrument, lest it triggered a revolt.

The esoteric rhythms keep us connected even now.  Drop a Rabòday or a Kongo beat, and stiffs in business suits start to undulate. The reaction is visceral. The drums call. Bodies and souls respond.

Morgan Zwerlein has learned the language of the drums, and speaks it very well. The instant I connected his face to his powerful sound, I was stunned. How on Earth did a blan learn to play like that? Cultural appropriation is one thing, but it’s different with this guy. I had to ask. What exactly are your intentions with these here rhythms? 

Morgan Zwerlein’s photo

The first answer came in 2014—on Haitian soil. I watched and listened as Morgan beat the drum on and off stage. He jumped in the middle of a Rara band in Puits Blain, and played as fiercely as my compatriots. I’ve seen Morgan perform in Brooklyn several times since. He plays like a happy kid in his favorite toy store, smiling like he’d just swallowed something sweet.  I had more questions. He answered them. Click here for the INNERview.

 

Haiti’s Flag Day

May 18, dizwime, is sacred. Compatriots at home and in the diaspora would agree.  What is it about this little country that tugs at our heart strings, no matter how far in the known world we stray?

We leave home, but can’t wait to return.  Haiti is Mom, Dad, and every caring relative we’ve ever known and loved.  We occupy ourselves with useless calculations now: We count years, months, days, hours, and unseen scars of exile. We hope only to live long enough to go home again, if such a thing is possible.

Don’t say it.

We know.

We know what is possible and what is not. We seethe. We eat foreign fruit. We sing our National Anthem in the privacy of our hearts, while we hum yours. We wear our flag, even if the colors of those passports in our breast pockets don’t match.

Haitian-born. Haitian-die.  Every stop in between is but a layover.   Pwen final.

Honor and interminable Respect  to  our ancestors! They earned their rightful place in history and in our collective consciousness.   Genuflect in honor of Catherine Flon–a central figure in the Haitian Revolution. Without her needle and thread, there might not have been such a pretty flag.

Today, we wear flags  on sleeves rolled to the elbows.  The load is heavy, but together we lift. And lift. And. . .

Batay sou batay. Bitay sou bitay.  Men nan men, n ap rive lwen. Pa gen manti nan sa.  Nou woule tankou boul sou wout. Kenbe rèd. Kenbe djanm. Pa lage. Koze ‘bay legen’ an pa ladann.