Michèle Voltaire Marcelin: Life Always Triumphs

Michèle Voltaire Marcelin is a writer, poet, performer, and visual artist who has lived in Haiti, Chile and the United States.

Her first novel, La Désenchantée, was published in 2006. Since then, she has published its Spanish translation, La Desencantada, as well as two other books of poetry and prose: Lost and Found, and Amours et Bagatelles– which was recently translated to Spanish and which she presented this February at the International Book Fair of Havana, Cuba.

Michele’s work is also included in two poetry anthologies published in France :Terre de Femmes (Editions Bruno Doucey) and Cahier Haiti by Revue d’Art, Littérature et Musique.

Maya Angelou declared her poems “stunning” in an interview on OprahRadio:

Haitian Poet Michele Voltaire Marcelin – Audio – Oprah.com

www.oprah.com

http://www.oprah.com/oprahradio/Haitian-Poet-Michele-Voltaire-Marcelin-Audio

Author Edwidge Danticat wrote: “The seventy-four poems in Michèle Voltaire Marcelin’s “Lost and Found” are as sensual as they are lyrical, as tender as they are incandescent. Make sure you are sitting down, or better yet lying down, with your beloved and a glass of wine, as you read them. Your heart — and your love life — will never be the same.”

Michèle recently read her poetry at the International Miami Book Fair along side Paul Farmer, Salman Rushdie, and Edwidge Danticat. She’s been featured as one of the poets of the NewsHour on PBS and interviewed by CNN Español.

She has performed her poetry solo and with jazz bands at the Brooklyn Museum , the MoCADA, La MaMa theatre, Cornelia Street Cafe, the United Nations, the Segal Theatre, and most recently at UCLA with Jonathan Demme, Maggie Steber, Mark Denner in Haiti Stories.

She has shared the stage with artistic luminaries Emeline Michel, Manno Charlemagne, Buyu Ambroise, Beethova Obas, Jessica St.Vil of KanuDance. Her artwork has been exhibited at the MoCADA, the African-American Museum of L.I., The Cork Gallery at Lincoln Center and the Mupanah in Haiti.

This Port-au-Prince born artist writes in 3 languages and currently lives and teaches in New York.

 

 

 

 

 

Markus Schwartz: Denmark Meets Haiti

Markus Schwartz Photo by Tequila Minsky

New InnerView

Master percussionist and bona fide tanbourinè, Markus Schwartz, reflects on his own private Haiti and his relationship with “the oldest instrument after the human voice.”

Markus was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, but a part of him is deeply rooted in Haitian culture. In English or in impeccable Kreyòl, he is direct and unpretentious. He speaks with reverence for the instrument he spent the last two decades studying. Although he has performed and recorded with top Haitian artists Beethova Obas, Emeline Michel, and Wyclef Jean, Markus always refers to himself as a student.

Of his first introduction to the tanbou, Markus says: “I don’t think anything happens by chance. In West African tradition, they might call it Fa. Your life has a map. It’s not an unalterable course, but I do believe certain things are placed in your path either to help you achieve your goals or to help move you from one period of your life to another.”

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Jany Tomba, The Original Haitian Model

IloveJANY from Fernando Teixeira on Vimeo.

In 1960’s and 1970’s Haitian model, Jany Tomba,  graced the covers of Mademoiselle, Ebony, and Essence magazines, among others. Hear this amazing woman tell her story in this video from Fernando Teixeira.

Mirlande Jean-Gilles’ Haiti

“Basket Woman” by Mirlande Jean-Gilles

My earliest memories are of being in Haiti and of freedom. I was four years old and I was allowed to walk alone to visit other family members and friends who lived nearby. I could travel farther if I was with one of the other kids. We spent all day outside, playing, hiding, running, chasing, tagging. We were the original recyclers: dried mango seeds were dolls. Plastic bottles with bottle caps became trucks with wheels. We even used cleaned goat bones as jacks.

There was a covered front porch where we played when it rained. One stormy day I was out there alone, waiting for my aunt to come home. Through the curtain of rain I saw the terrible Tonton Macoute- not the gangsters, but the fabled old man monster who carried children away in a sack. He ambled down the street with a huge, screaming, writhing bag over one shoulder. I was frozen in fear and hypnotized by his eyes. Before he could grab me, I saw my aunt coming down the street; her bright white uniform glowed. She broke the spell and I zoomed to her. When we were back on the porch, the monster was not there. That experience is in a place where reality and myth mesh. Was it a story told to me or was it real? I don’t know. But it was vivid enough to stay in my memory.

I remember laughter. I remember music. I remember love. The adults gathered around the outdoor cooking fire to talk politics, gossip, and maybe play dominoes. My aunts and grandmother cooked delicious meals, both outdoors and in the kitchen. I remember Haiti as a place where your neighbor is your family. This is the richness I remember—the eternal legacy of an island with treasures untold.

 

See Mirlande’s work at www.aziarts.com

 

We are Beautiful and We Are Here