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Haitian Heritage Month Highlight: Marie-Celie Agnant

May is Haitian Heritage Month and the 18th is especially notable because it is Haitian Flag Day. Both my mother and father were born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. I must admit I haven’t taken the time to read more work by Haitian writers besides a couple like the famed Edwidge Danticat. I decided in honor of Haitian Heritage Month, I will highlight Haitian writers for my Tuesday posts.

The first of which is Marie-Celie Agnant. She was born in Haiti but has lived in Quebec, Montreal since 1970. She has written several novels, books of poems and novellas. Her work has been translated into several languages including English, Dutch and Spanish and has worked with Bread and Puppet Theater of Vermont.

Here is a poem by Ms. Agnant I found particularly moving:

Gonaïves

nothing but the memories
of the days before death
the ocean
and its gentle song
the ocean
and the empty void

empty boats returning
carried by the wind that stirs the empty air

empty hope
and shacks emptied of fishermen
with their empty hands

and children’s eyes
full right up to the eyelids
with the horror of a world
empty of all compassion

nothing left here but what was
and the sky
to collect the resentment
of those who no longer have the strength to shout

nothing left here
but the restless souls
of the dead
that we try to bury
beneath slabs of time

hereafter paradises are
houses for the dead

I would so like to write another story
tear the black veil of night
find a path to the end of night

but there’s nothing left here
nothing but endless night

and the great bare sun
in the immensity of empty sky

 

Because of my limited French, I was glad to find so much of her work translated into English. I, for one, am excited to envelop myself in more of this talent’s work.

Happy Haitian Heritage Month!

 

 

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