Tag Archives: Haiti Noir akashic books

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.

A Festival to Remember

frog in aquinI’m a wannabe athlete who loves to run. I’ve earned bragging rights for finishing several half- and full marathons, among them two Marine Corps. When I run, I compete only against my shadow–nobody else’s. I aim to do better than I did in previous races; the end. I don’t get an itch, when other runners leave me behind. As long as I finish—however long it takes me to finish—I win. Big.

katia MCMSome people can hold deep conversations with their buddies while running; I’m not that skilled. When I get out there, the only voice that won’t bug me belongs to Eddy François, the lead singer of Boucan Guinen. He has resided inside my modern-day boombox for years. Boucan Guinen’s Pale Pale  CD pulls me through every finish line.  People laugh and tease me, saying: “You’re still listening to those same four songs?” I don’t answer anymore. They don’t get it.

I saw Boucan Guinen perform in Brooklyn years ago. It was there that I experienced pioneer racine band,  Boukman Eksperyans, for the first and only time. I fantasized about meeting those musicians someday. Someday never came, but Boucan Guinen continued to pull me through more finish lines.

Paul onstageBoukman Eksperyans’s lead’s singer’s son, Paul Beaubrun, now has a band of his own: Zing Experience.

Zing’s message of togetherness by any means continues to gain massive popularity internationally. Paul is a dynamic performer and one of the sweetest people I’ve met. Check out our VoicefromHaiti INNERview.

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Destination Aquin

Two weeks ago, when a friend told me about the festival in Aquin, Haïti, I was intrigued. When I heard that Boukman Eksperyans, Zing, and Boucan Guinen would be there together, I ran a minute-mile to the airport.

100_9590When I reached Haïti and learned that rehearsals would take place at Boukman’s place, I fainted. The first person I saw there was Zing’s first lady, Cynthia C. Beaubrun.

On a front porch not far too away, Zing rehearsed. Everyone was so pleasant. So normal. . .

on hte porch with zingZing continued to rehearse, perfecting their sound.  When rehearsal turned into a laissez-faire jam session, I threw a song; the musicians didn’t let it fall. They played. I sang. We jammed and laughed and jammed some more.

trip to aquinWhen the bus to Aquin arrived the next morning,  I was in shock. Seriously. Guess who was there!

For three and half hours, I rode to Aquin with several of Haïti’s most talented Racine musicians. A dream bigger than the one I dared dream came true.

100_9665Paul Beaubrun and Eddy François sat front and center, laughing and conducting the mayhem. Eddy’s better half and Boucan Guinen singer, Manina François, stayed graceful amid the raucous banter.

Percussionist, Yatande Boko,  kept everyone entertained with his mischievous antics. Bass player, Chico Boyer, sat by a window, looking ever so pensive. Jimmy Daniel drummed on the back of the seat in front of him. Paul’s queen, Cynthia Beaubrun, was serene and composed. I managed to sit still,  even if I was in Racine Heaven.

100_9726We reached the hotel just in time for everyone to get ready for the show.

There was a whole lot of fun going on, but these guys are actually hard-working professionals who happen to love their job so much that it looks like they’re playing. The musicians poured their souls into each number. The crowd cheered.  Zing’s set ended too soon. Boukman was next.

LOLO on stageBoukman Eksperyans was perfection personified. The dancers moved parts of their bodies I didn’t even know existed. Manzè Beaubrun gave the crowd all she had and plenty more.

Boucan was supposed to play immediately after Boukman Eksperyans, but Rain had a different plan. Everyone hurried to the bus.  “I love music, but I’m not ready to be electrocuted for it,” one musician whispered.

It was now 3:00 in the morning. Many of the guys had fallen asleep. It looked as if Boucan Guinen would not perform. But the crowd was relentless.

100_9939Boucan Guinen had to go onstage.  I went with them, naturally. Yatande Boko and Jimmy Daniel blew me away; those drums were like thunder.

The crowd loved Manina, and behaved as if they’d known her for a long time.

When the night sky started to shed tears once again, the musicians’ faces registered fear. Rather than end the show, Paul Beaubrun and his dad joined Boucan Guinen on stage for the ultimate jam session.

100_9980I put my camera down, and bounced. I owed myself a dance, and it was payday.

Boucan might have finished last in the festival, but the people of Aquin won big.  (I did, too.)100_9965

Akashic Books’ Johnny Temple & “Haiti’s Wonderful Literary Tradition”

Akashic Books’  Haiti Noir is now in French. The collection offers short fiction by Yanick Lahens, M. J. Fievre, Madison Smartt Bell, Edwidge Danticat, Ibi Aanu Zoboi, Josaphat-Robert Large, Katia D. Ulysse, Marie Ketsia Pharel, and others.  Now that Haiti Noir has received a second life, I wanted to ask Akashic Books’ publisher, Johnny Temple, a few questions. Here’s how our Q&A went:

Who is Johnny Temple?

Johnny Temple is a strange guy with a gorgeous wife and two beautiful children. For all of his perplexing idiosyncrasies,  he has impeccable taste in literature.

According to Akashic Book’s website, you are “dedicated to publishing urban literary fiction and political nonfiction by authors who are either ignored by the mainstream, or who have no interest in working within the ever-consolidating ranks of the major corporate publishers.”  What are the stories you would never read?

There are no stories I wouldn’t read. If there is a story that sounds aesthetically distasteful or politically wrong-headed to me, I may still want to take a look at it up close so that I can judge for myself.

What gave you the idea for the Noir Series?

The series grew out of the success of Brooklyn Noir, which was never intended to be the first in a series that now comprises over 60 volumes (and growing). The idea is to take a city—or sometimes a region or nation—and sketch out its hidden corners through darkly themed short fiction by a diverse array of authors. If the depiction of the place rings true for local residents, it stands a good chance of appealing to a national or international audience as well.

What made you include Haiti in the series?

One of Akashic Books’ missions is to publish top-caliber Caribbean literature, so when the Noir Series started expanding, it was only a matter of time before the arrival of Havana Noir (edited by Achy Obejas), Trinidad Noir (edited by Lisa Allen-Agostini and Jeanne Mason), Haiti Noir (edited by Edwidge Danticat), and most recently Kingston Noir (edited by Colin Channer).

What preconceived ideas did you have about the types of stories you would receive from Haitian writers?

The book was already in progress when the earthquake struck in January 2010, so the direction that the stories would take was unclear. I knew from the start that the stories would be very strong — because of Haiti’s wonderful literary tradition, and because of the level of excellence I knew Edwidge Danticat would bring to the project as the editor. Even so, the stylistic and thematic breadth of the full volume is pretty staggering.

Were you pleased with the compilation?

Beyond pleased. A percentage of the proceeds from the book have been donated to an important organization called the Lambi Fund of Haiti that supports sustainable development, so that has been a particularly heartening aspect of the book’s ongoing success.

When will we see Haiti Noir in Kreyòl?

We would love to do a Kreyòl version of the book. We don’t have any specific plans yet, but it’s something we are very open to!

Thank you, Johnny Temple, for answering a few questions. We look forward to the next Noir Book. And a Haiti Noir in Kreyòl!