HCX Collaborations | Haïti en Folie

By Nathalie Jolivert, HCX Communications and Outreach Coordinator

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This past Sunday, October 23, 2016, Haiti Cultural Exchange collaborated with Festival Haiti en Folie and hosted a conference and book signing for authors Michel Soukar and Rodney Saint-Eloi at Brooklyn College. Fabienne Colas, founder of Haiti en Folie and Carèl Pèdre, radio host of Chokarella in Haiti gave a warm welcome to the attendees after which, the writer and poet Michèle Marcelin Voltaire moderated the conversation between the two guest speakers.

Michel Soukar, historian and journalist based in Port-au-Prince spoke about his career and how his exile from Haiti allowed him to take a step back, as an activist, to focus on the history of the country. Learning about the complex history of Haiti encouraged him to communicate political and societal change in compelling storytelling. Soukar’s bibliography includes “Cora Geffrard, which recounts the life and death of president Fabre Geffrard’s daughter who was killed at a young age and “La Prison des Jours, which follows his main character, Antoine Pierre Paul’s insurgence against the US army during the American occupation of Haiti. In December, Soukar will be part of a conference in Haiti highlighting this military occupation, as a difficult period with an ongoing impact.

Rodney Saint-Eloi, writer and editor based in Montreal spoke about the importance of memory for the Haitian people. In the presentation of his newly published novel “Passion Haiti”, he mentions that memory is important to preserve for it is by knowing our past that we can move forward with lessons learned. As an example, he mentioned that his recent novel gave hope to a reader who felt hopeless for the Southern cities of Haiti post-hurricane Matthew. By reading about the author’s native city of Cavaillon, the reader understood that this city would prevail, for there was a lot of history that could not be erased by a hurricane.

As editors and great promoters of Haitian literature, Michel Soukar and Rodney Saint-Eloi also took the time to pay homage to classic Haitian writers like René Dépestre, Marie-Vieux Chauvet and Jacques Roumain. They also highlighted the works of a growing number of women writers, as well as that of poets who publish in Creole.

The attendance was multi-generational and the questions covered many aspects of the literary scene of Haiti from budding writers trying to make a mark through their participation in fairs and literary events, to scholars who are concerned about the future of literature in Haiti and the access to published work by a wider Haitian audience, via education. The event ended with a long line of guests eager to have their questions answered as they got their newly purchased books signed by the authors.

Haiti Cultural Exchange was pleased to partner with Fabienne Colas and Haiti En Folie and look forward to continuing to partner with likeminded organizations to bring Haitian culture to the forefront of New York’s rich cultural landscape.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 25th, 2016 at 2:56 pm and is filed under Archive, Events, HCX Collaborations, Literature, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.