Archive for the ‘An n’ Pale’ Category

An n’ Pale | Café Conversation with Manbo Dòwòti Desir


Dowoti Alice Ann palePlaces of forgetting, places of remembering. These were the focus of the An n’ Pale|Café Conversation with Manbo Dòwòti Désir on Thursday, October 23, 2014. The talk highlighted her new book, Goud kase goud: Conjuring Memory in Spaces of the AfroAtlantic. The special event, organized by Haiti Cultural Exchange and moderated by Advisory Board member and Kiskeácity founder Alice Backer, was an opportunity to explore the connections between sacred space and public discourse. Those gathered at FiveMyles Gallery enjoyed wine and other refreshments as they awaited the arrival of the guest of honor. Some spoke in hushed voices about the preservation of African culture in the Diaspora, which had been the topic of Manbo Dòwòti’s appearances on Backer’s radio program, Legacy of 1804. Others talked about their travels in Africa and throughout the Diaspora, and wondered aloud at what insights Désir would offer up during the conversation.

As a light rain began to fall, she arrived to hold court. After a brief welcome from HCX Executive Director Régine M. Roumain, Ms. Backer and Manbo Dòwòti took their places in the front of the room. Alice first introduced the speaker, highlighting her extensive work in academia as well as in the cultural sphere, and underscored her participation in the UN’s commemoration of the International Decade for Africa. An extremely regal woman with a warm presence, members of the audience were invited to share in an exchange of ideas as Manbo Dòwòti and Ms. Backer began. In the course of her research for Goud kase goud, Désir completed a multi-year journey to 16 countries, visiting places imprinted with the energy of the Ma’afa. The images and words that she brings together capture the pain and longing of separation, the suffering of oppression, the hope of salvation, and the sweet confidence of liberty.

The author presented a slideshow of the sites detailed in the book. Some are places of forgetting, like the well at Elmina castle in Ghana. The Manbo explained that captive Africans were made to walk around this well several times, reciting incantations that severed their connection with the Motherland. She said that this was as much a show of mercy as it was of brutality. The captors understood that the separation would have been too great, too generationally scarring, without some form of ritual passage. Other sites were places to allow remembrance and reflection, like the “Redemption Song” sculpture in Kingston, Jamaica’s Emancipation Park. The figures, a Black man and Black woman, rise serenely from the water, their faces to the sky. Just as places like Elmina and Goree Islands mark where captives left Home, sites such as Emancipation Park and Manhattan’s African Burial Ground National Monument speak to the ways in which they and their children pursued freedom, dignity, and a new sense of home on the other side of the Atlantic.

During the question and answer session, Manbo Dòwòti spoke of how her journey into AfroAtlantic religious traditions and her experience as an artist in the public domain informed the project that became Goud kase goud. As a vodouisante, she understands how public space and spectacle serve as vehicles for addressing social issues. She conveyed the importance of ritual, of psycho-spiritual healing, in movements for social justice. The evening closed on a high note, with Manbo Dòwòti taking time to speak individually with members of the audience and sign copies of her book.

To see pictures of this event, click here!

To purchase your copy of Goud kase goud: Conjuring Memory in Spaces of the AfroAtlantic, visit the HCX Boutik at 558 St.John’s Place | Brooklyn, NY.

By Gerard D. Miller, Jr., An n’ Pale participant

Posted in An n' Pale, Archive, Events, HCX Programs, Literature, Photography | No Comments »

An n’ Pale | Café Conversation with Frankétienne


10612558_10152672471916830_8084676283551669964_nThe high hum of voices in the room gave away the excitement of the crowd. Everywhere you looked, people were deeply engrossed in conversation, having some heated debate, or laughing over a glass of wine. A quick scan of the room revealed that all available seats were full and any remaining wall space, or other standing room, was taken. It was clear that everyone gathered at FiveMyles gallery on the evening of September 19, 2014 for Haiti Cultural Exchange’s (HCX) An n Pale Conversation Series was eagerly awaiting the guest of honor that night: Franketienne. Haiti’s literary powerhouse was in town to promote the release of the English language version of his first full-length novel, “Ready to Burst”. On this night, Franketienne was to be accompanied by Kaiama Glover, the Associate Professor at Barnard who translated “Ready to Burst” from the French, and author Madison Smartt Bell. Following an introduction by HCX Executive Director Régine M. Roumain, Bell, who was to interpret from the Haitian Creole, and Glover, who was to interpret from the French, dived right in to a conversation with Franketienne.

As Franketienne began to answer questions (“Tell us more about the novel”, “How did you come to invent the literary genre of spiralism”, “What was it like to live through the Duvalier dictatorships and to protest through your literature?) one thing was immediately clear: there is deliberateness to his character that resonates strongly with people. Each word spoken, just as in his literature, is carefully chosen and hand-picked to provide the strongest impact possible. The respect and reverence that hung in the air was palpable as Franketienne described his work, as he related his thoughts on the matters of the world, as he reminded us that there is no one solution to Haiti’s problems, and as he shared his desire to engage as much as possible with the Haitian people as he could. As Franck seamlessly wove in and out of French and Haitian Creole, Bell and Glover interpreted accordingly. “True wealth is in spirituality,” he stated. The crowd murmured in agreement. “Without chaos there is death,” he insisted. “The world belongs to us all,” he boldly exclaimed. Applause often ensued as each statement proved to be even more daring than the last.

As the evening wore on, the energy of the crowd became increasingly more heightened. Being a man of the people, an artist for the people, Franketienne insisted on including the people in the conversation. In his eyes, his existence now is focused entirely in pawòl, or Kreyòl for “speech”. His goal is to engage with the people, to speak with the people, to share with the people. In this spirit, audience members began not just to ask questions but also to offer their opinions and commentary on everything from the current state of affairs in Haiti to the importance of protesting the injustices that are happening on a global scale to imparting their own wisdom regarding the role of the Haitian diaspora in Haiti’s future. Some people spoke from their seats and still others made their way to the front of the room, as if their mere proximity to Franketienne would imbue them with the very spirit of his genius. Franketienne welcomed them all. He openly acknowledged every speaker. Be they critic or fan, long-winded questions or not, Franketienne interacted with them all in such an intimately genuine way that it was obvious why he continues to be held in such great regard by so many, both in the world of literature but also in the everyday, commonplace life of all Haitians.

The evening ended with Franck reading an excerpt from Mûr a Crever and Glover reading the corresponding English passage from Ready to Burst. Franketienne reminded the crowd why he is considered one of the founding fathers of contemporary Haitian literature. Drawing from his background in theater, Franck’s reading was poignant, jarring and impactful. For those who could understand the French, he drew them in with the words, and even those who could not understand could feel the weight of the sounds of the words leaving his mouth. Glover’s English translation of the French left many wanting to hear more, wanting to immerse themselves more completely in the work of a man who has, for decades, lived and loved Haiti and its people so much that he has built an entire life of art around it. The readings were followed by a book signing, that went well beyond the intended end time of 9:00 but this was of no consequence, both to those who waited patiently for their moment with Franketienne but also to Franck himself, who lives for these personal interactions. As it tends to happen at HCX events, people continued to linger, not quite ready for the night to end. As people slowly trickled out of the gallery, the energy was still one of excitement. In the course of just a short evening, with just his words and his very presence, Franketienne had managed to ignite a powerful fire in many.

Click here for pictures of Frankétienne’s conversation.
Click here to watch Frankétienne read from his book.

By Wynnie Lamour, Founder of the Haitian Creole Language Institute

Posted in An n' Pale, Archive, Events, HCX Collaborations, HCX Programs, Poetry, Uncategorized | No Comments »

An n’ Pale | Café Conversation with Mimerose ‘Manzè’ Beaubrun



On a stormy night this past May, as part of Selebrasyon!, we welcomed Mimerose ‘Manzè’ Beaubrun, co-founder of Boukman Eksperyans and author of Nan Dòmi, An Initiate’s Journey Into Haitian Vodou for a moderated discussion with editor and journalist, Joel Dreyfuss.  To a packed room, but in keeping with the intimate nature of our An n’ Pale|Café Conversation series, we were fortunate to have such a musical icon in our midst sharing her views about vodou.  “Vodou is life” she said a number of times.  She laughed with the audience and she also challenged us to be better ambassadors for our culture.  The 300 square foot HCX office was teeming with folks wanting their books signed.  Manzè took great care to talk to everyone and answer questions.  After the signing, Boukman Eksperyans took to the stage and gave a rousing performance.  It was a special evening of dancing, singing and sharing.  A true HCX experience!

If you still want a copy of Nan Dòmi, you can purchase the book at the HCX Boutik.

Read about the experience from one of our guests, blogger Shadine Menard, on HIP Magazine

Check out our Facebook album!



Posted in An n' Pale, Archive, Arts, Dance, Events, HCX Programs, Literature, Music, Public Forums, Selebrasyon! | No Comments »

Selebrasyon! :: Discussions & Workshops


An n’ Pale | Café Conversation with singer & author Mimerose “Manzè” Beaubrun

Boukman group photoJoin us for a conversation with Manzè Beaubrun, lead singer and co-founder of Boukman Eksperyans, about her new book Nan Domi: An Initiate’s Journey into Haitian Vodou, followed by a performance with Boukman Eksperyans. Known for their musical revolution, the Grammy-nominated group is a fusion of traditional Haitian and Caribbean rhythms with rock and reggae.

DATE / TIME: Friday, May 23rd, 2014 / 6 – 11pm. Discussion will begin at 7pm.
LOCATION: FiveMyles Gallery, 558 St Johns Place Brooklyn, NY 11238 Map
ADMISSION: Free. $10 suggested donation. Seating is limited, first come first serve.


Konpa Nite

Enjoy a discussion on the evolution of Konpa with your favorite musicians followed by an evening of dancing and the hottest Konpa tunes. Special invited guests include: Fanfan Tibot of Tabou Combo, Edy Brisseaux & Steve Desrosier.

DATE / TIME: Friday, June 6th, 2014 / 6pm – Midnight
LOCATION: Brasserie Creole, 22702 Linden Blvd, Jamaica, NY 11411 Map
ADMISSION: Free. $10 suggested donation.


Atis Angaje Forum

Artists of the “Atis Angaje” movement will discuss their experiences and political work during the Duvalier regime as well as the impact of art as a political tool in the Diaspora. With panelists Daniel Huttinot and Georges Vilson and video presentation by Lionel Legros. Co-presented with NYU’s Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies.

Daniel Huttinot is one of the founding members of Troupe Kouidor, a leftist performance art ensemble that utilized their craft to raise awareness of political issues under the Duvalier regime. Huttinot was also a political analyst on “L’Heure Haïtienne” from 1973 to 2000.

Lionel Legros is a Haitian journalist and directed the radio show “L’Heure Haïtienne” for over 20 years. His work documenting the experience of refugees from all over the world stands as a contribution to the voice of the displaced.

Georges Vilson is an archivist & musician who has worked to document Haitian folk and traditional music. His experience singing with well-known artist Manno Charlemagne links him to the early stages of a prolific movement of artists working to acknowledge and fortify Haiti’s cultural link to activism.

DATE / TIME: Wednesday, June 11th, 2014 / 6 – 9pm
LOCATION: King Juan Carlos the I of Spain Center, 53 Washington Square South, New York, NY 10003 Map
ADMISSION: FREE. $10 suggested donation.


Community Curated Project: Istwa Djakout Mwen (The History of My Djakout)

graciepassportLed by artist Gracie Xavier in honor of Haitian Heritage Month, Istwa Djakout Mwen and Collage Workshop will utilize found objects and collage to help participants share stories of their voyage to the United States.

Gracie Xavier is a Haitian visual artist from New York. She is currently receiving her MFA in Community Arts from Maryland Institute College of Art. Learn more about Xavier’s work here.

DATE / TIME: Saturday, June 14th, 2014 / 1 – 3:30pm.
LOCATION: FiveMyles Gallery, 558 St Johns Place Brooklyn, NY 11238 Map
ADMISSION: Free. Workshop will accommodate 20 people, please arrive early to ensure your seat. First come first serve.


Evolution | Revolution : A Panel Discussion on Contemporary Haitian Dance

04_Cumbe_logo_lockupsPresented in collaboration with CUMBE: Center for African & Diasporan Dance, join HCX for a panel discussion with dancers Julio Jean & Goussy Célestin on the evolution of traditional & contemporary dance in Haiti and the Diaspora. Discussion will be followed by a participatory dance demonstration.

DATE/TIME: Saturday, June 14th, 2014 / 5 – 6:30pm
LOCATION: CUMBE: Center for African & Diasporan Dance, 558 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217 Map

 Lakay Se Lakay :: Home is Home :  Haitian Electronic Artist conversation Series

LakayA panel of Haitian & Haitian-American DJs share insight on their style and the role of Haitian traditional sounds in their mixes. Panelists are Val Jeanty, Richard Laurent (Earthman), Justin Hyppolite (Dj Deepjust Aquabeat), Marjory Smarth, and Gardy Girault.

DATE/TIME: Friday, June 27th, 2014 /  6:30 – 9pm
LOCATION: The Commons, 388 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217 Map

Posted in An n' Pale, Dance, HCX Programs, Music, Public Forums, Selebrasyon!, Uncategorized, Weekend | No Comments »

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