HCX Community Postings
Here's where you can find useful resources throughout our community.
By Nathalie Jolivert, Communications and Outreach Coordinator at HCX
For the series of Black History Month events at Haiti Cultural Exchange, I had the opportunity to lead a Sip and Paint session on Haitian Creole Proverbs. This workshop took place at the cozy Haitian-owned lounge ’33 Lafayette’ in Brooklyn.
Haitian Creole Proverbs are very visual expressions that are learned orally from generation to generation. In the Haitian culture, if you want to be well understood, ending your argument with a proverb could easily settle the discussion. During this event, guests learned about a few of those iconic expressions and were challenged to come up with their own visual interpretation.
“Piti piti, zwazo fe nich li” = “Little by little the bird builds its nest”, this proverb resonated to one of the guests who had just moved to New York. While she felt that it would take time for her to adapt in the Big Apple, building her nest, step by step, seemed like a wise approach.
The proverb “Dèyè mòn gen mòn” = “Mountains beyond Mountains” usually refers to endless challenges in Haiti, but for Erika Pettersen, HCX’s Director of Development and Communications, this proverb could also speak about opportunities. For her painting, she first started with a simple rendition of grayscale hills which became colorful as they reached the horizon.
Although most of the guests claimed that they had little visual-artistic background, their sense of composition, their attention and genuine interest for the meaning of those Haitian proverbs resulted in appealing paintings. It was a pleasure for me to work with them and in return expand my own understanding of the wisdom in those expressions.
About the author:
Nathalie Jolivert is a Haitian architect and artist who lives and works in NY. Her art is influenced by her interest in urbanism, environmental issues and human relationships. Nathalie studied Fine Arts and Architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design.
Photography by: Liz Gauthier
Okai is a percussionist and vocalist in several bands that are based in Brooklyn, all representing the music of the African Diaspora. As a lead vocalist and percussionist of Brown Rice Family, StringsNSkins and Underground Horns Okai is often on the road travelling to perform gigs all over the country and internationally.
As a Lakou Nou Artist in Residency in Canarsie, Okai created a workshop that incorporated his passion for drumming and his conscious eating lifestyle. This session took place on Saturday, November 5th at the Brooklyn Theater Arts, South Shore High School.
In 2012 Okai started to adopt a more conscious diet. He explained that making changes such as eating less meat, consuming less dairy, becoming more conscious of his sugar intake made a huge difference. He also began studying product labels more often and stayed away from ingredients he was unsure of or that were obviously detrimental when consumed. Reading labels and doing research on ingredients also helped him to be a more conscious consumer because he started paying more attention to the companies he was supporting, he began to invest more in companies with a shared mission.
Okai has noticed a transformation in his wellbeing since making these changes “ I started noticing that I had more energy, more awareness, I dreamt better and I had better thoughts” he stated. Inspired by the positive results he achieved by making this change, he now aims to share this message with other musicians. Accordingly as an artist in residence, in our Lakou Nou Artist Residency program in Canarsie, he incorporated a health segment in his workshop. He invited Anthony a drummer and health specialist practicing in Queens, NY. During his segment, Anthony reiterated a lot of what Okai himself had learned on his health conscious journey including cutting out a lot of pasta, processed foods and items that used a lot of white flour.
Another unique aspect of this workshop is that it brought together both beginners and professional drummers. Okai’s Rhythm Exchange workshop featured three master drummers of Colombian, Puerto Rican, and Haitian background, which allowed for drummers of all levels to learn a new rhythm. Attendees learned Afro-Columbian drumming from Cumbia rhythms originated from the days of slavery in the late 17th century. We learned of the bass drum (tambora) a double -sided drum used to produce the deep bass rhythms; the Tambor Alegre a secondary mid-drum known used for backup rhythm and the small drum (lamador), which also provides the back beat. Afterwards Will Tucker presented Puerto Rican Bumba rhythm featuring the drumming style Leró used as accompaniment for dancers. Finally Jean May Brignol gave us a snippet of Ibo, Nago and Yanvalou rhythms from Afro Haitian drumming.
Okai’s workshop gave participants an opportunity to hear and experience how similar and connected Afro-Caribbean culture is, while also hearing the different tones that make the expression from each country unique and distinctive.
See photos of the event HERE!
For the 6th edition of our annual literary event “Pwezi ak Mizik Anba Tonèl” we were pleased to host the legendary musician Boulo Valcourt and poets Jeanie Bogart and James Noël. Boulo Valcourt holds an important place in the Haitian music scene and culture. He participated in various music bands, including Ibo Combo and Caribbean Sextet, and is well known for his contribution to Haiti’s “twoubadou” music genre. Jeanie Bogart grew up in the Southern Haitian city of Les Cayes before moving to New York. As a Creole and French court interpreter, Bogart witnesses difficult court trials, yet her poetry is full of passion and love. James Noël, who joined us from Port-au-Prince, is a prolific poet whose career is widely celebrated. He is very active in the literary scene of Haiti and often participates in international literary events.
The evening started with an open-mic for poets in the audience, which was a fitting tone for this evening filled with impromptu performances, street dancing, and community residents from our Crown Heights neighborhood. They were followed by Boulo Valcourt whose lovely guitar set the mood for James Noël and Jeanie Bogart. Noël’s touching tribute to the late Haitian drummer Léonord Fortuné ‘Azor’ and Bogart’s passionate love lyrics motivated our guests to rush and buy copies of their anthologies after the show. It felt like the perfect end-of-summer event. In the final moments, Boulo Valcourt’s nostalgic sounds for the famous song “La Pèsonn O” had the crowd chanting together with the musician as they wished farewell to the warm season.
Please enjoy pictures of the performance below by Paul Corbanese:
Event covered by Adolf Azuphar on Rhythm Passport: http://www.rhythmpassport.com/articles-and-reviews/event-review/review-boulo-valcourt-five-myles-gallery-brooklyn-27th-august-2016/
Event covered by Tequila Minsky on Caribbean Life: http://www.caribbeanlifenews.com/stories/2016/9/2016-09-02-tm-haitian-sidewalk-soiree-cl.html?utm_medium=web&utm_campaign=misclinks&utm_source=newsbar&utm_content=intra
James Noël’s books :
Anthologie de la Poésie Haïtienne
Le Pyromane Adolescent
Un jour… tes pantoufles
Jeanie Bogart’s books :
Sa m pral kite dèyè
Dènye rèl- DVD
Join HCX for our classic An n’ Pale | Café Conversation at the Bowery Poetry Club with Danielle Legros Georges.
Danielle Legros Georges
Danielle is the current Poet Laureate of the City of Boston and a professor in the Creative Arts in Learning Division of Lesley University. She also teaches in the Joiner Institute for the Study of War and Social Consequences summer Writer’s Workshop, University of Massachusetts, Boston. Her poems have been widely anthologized, and recent essays of hers have appeared in Others Will Enter the Gates: Immigrant Poets on Poetry, Influences and Writing in America (ed. Abayomi Animashaun) and Anywhere But Here: Black Intellectuals in the Atlantic World and Beyond (eds. Kendal Radcliffe and Jennifer Scott). She is the author of two volumes of poems, Maroon (Curbstone Press, 2001) and The Dear Remote Nearness of You (Barrow Street Press, 2016).
Click here to view the Selebrasyon! 2016 calendar of events!
DATE/TIME: Sunday, June 26th | 3:30pm
LOCATION: Bowery Poetry Club | MAP
308 Bowery | New York, NY 10012
ADMISSION: $10 Suggested Donation