Posts Tagged ‘ann’pale’

Archive: An n’ Pale | Café Conversation with author Ibi Zoboi


This essay, written by Ibi Zoboi, is included as the preface in the Daughters of Anacaona anthology,  sold for $10 through Haiti Cultural Exchange. To purchase a copy please contact Regine Roumain at

Anacaona was Taino queen of Kiskeya (what is now Haiti and the Dominican Republic) who defied imperialism, contested European settlers on the island and managed to avert for over a decade the impending annihilation of her people and her culture.  DAWP’s mission is to instill the legacy of Anacaona onto the new generation of young writers so her prowess and vision can manifest in their creativity.

The Daughters of Anacaona Writing Project aims to foster creative expression, self-esteem, sisterhood, community service, cultural awareness, social activism, and leadership all within a “safe space”.  By creating two mirroring programs in both Haiti and the U.S., participating girls will gain a deeper understanding of the Haitian Diaspora and the many challenges that teen girls face in either a poverty-stricken country recently ravaged by an earthquake, or a bustling cosmopolitan city oftentimes plagued with crime and violence.  Through a published anthology of their works that will act as a form of cultural exchange, a Haitian girl and a Haitian-American, Caribbean, or African-American girl will share their differences and similarities and will hopefully form a bond that will encourage each of them to carry the lessons learned into their adult lives.

This year marked the second successful summer of The Daughters of Anacaona Writing Project. DAWP partnered with Dwa Fanm with a grant from Brooklyn Arts Council in 2009 to initiate a creative writing workshop during the summer serving primarily Haitian, Dominican, and Caribbean immigrant or first generation teen girls ages 12-17 residing in Brooklyn.

In 2010 DAWP formed a partnership with Haiti Cultural Exchange, preceded by a similar 3-day intensive writing workshop in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in collaboration with FONDASYON FELICITE, a local organization founded by historian and educator Bayyinah Bello.

I launched a successful week-long fundraising campaign through to help in the costs for the project in Haiti.  I am truly grateful to all those who believed in the goal of DAWP and helped in ensuring its success.

In Haiti, 19 girls were recruited from local schools and met at FONDASYON FELICITE in the town of Tabarre in Port-au-Prince for 3 hours on 3 consecutive days culminating in a reading of their works with their families and community.  The reading was televised by Radyo Tele Ginen and Tele Nationale D’Haiti, two major stations in Haiti.  Participants were given certificates of completion along with pens and a journal to continue their writing.

In Brooklyn, 19 girls participated in the workshop at the Flatbush Branch Public Library in Brooklyn.  We met for three days over four weeks and family members, friends, and library staff were invited for a reading on the final day.

It wasn’t difficult for them to bond in the beginning.  Many shared the common Haitian heritage, others the same school or neighborhood, or simply that it was the first time they had been in a small group with just girls.  I let them talk, and they sure can talk, of course.  Many of the workshops began with a game or ice-breaker and a free write to allow the young women to become comfortable with creating and sharing amongst one another.  There were check-ins in the form of “highs and lows” or “sweets and sours” of the day or week.  I would begin with a topic such as beauty, family, culture, or home and what would most oftentimes ensue is an in-depth conversation followed by a poem, story, or essay.  Some girls preferred to talk, which was encouraged, while others wrote their thoughts down, either keeping it to themselves, or feeling confident enough to ask for it to be published in the anthology.

Overall, 38 girls were served in Port-au-Prince and Brooklyn, and from what I observed; there were more similarities than differences.  In DAWP, they were challenged to show up for themselves, speak up, claim themselves as writers and tellers of their own truths. The onus of Haitian artists is to pass on this tradition of telling our stories to the next generation.

Ibi Zoboi

October 2010

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Archive: An n’ Pale | Café Conversation with filmmaker Michele Stephenson


This review is written by Marsha Laconte, an attendee of our Cafe Conversation with Michele Stephenson.

I leave work early on Tuesday, September 28, to attend An n’ Palé: aninspiring dialogue held once a month by Haiti Cultural Exchange. I arrive around 5:45 pm at Shop Talk Art, located at 35 Lafayette in Fort Green. The Art gallery has been transformed into a movie theater with rows of pliable chairs and a large movie screen. I make small talk with friends and meet new ones while enjoying the Brie, Chardonnay and other delicacies deliciously spread on a table placed by the entrance.

I came to see “Haiti: One Day, One Destiny,” a work in progress by the Haitian born filmmaker Michèle Stephenson. I have never seen any of Stephenson’s films or documentaries but I have heard and read a lot about her and her production company, Rada Film Group. By 6:15 the house is full and the host, Régine Roumain, invites her audience to take a seat. She introduces the guest of honor and gracefully mentions her long list of accomplishments: SilverDocs International Documentary Film Festival; Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary, ABFF, Best Documentary, PATOIS: The New Orleans Human Rights Film Festival; Best Short Film, Best Film Directed by a Woman of Color, amongst others.

By 6:30 pm the doors of the gallery are closed, the lights are dimmed and the screen is given life. The images presented are compelling, intimate, touching and heart breaking, but hopeful. The portraits are that of remarkable individuals on the aftermath of the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti. A Voudou priest, a law student, a medical student and others. They narrate their experiences during the catastrophe. They mention the friends and family they have lost or thought they lost. They stress what they believe can be done; what they are doing. They offer their daily lives as proof to their commitment to situations that feel at times insurmountable. The Voudou priest insists on the idea of collaboration and that of being one people regardless of one’s religious affiliation. The law student
does his rounds, checking on earthquake victims in a neighborhood assigned to him by an organization he belongs to. The medical student surmounts the pain of losing her mother to care for hundreds of patients.

The captivating stories navigating between Port-au-Prince and the border with Dominican Republic convince me that I am not watching a simple news story. The documentary is committed to giving center stage to the different angles that the media does not care for. By 7:30 the screening is over and I feel that it ended too soon. I am thirsty for more and impatiently await its debut on By 8:30, after the Q and A I have persuaded myself that I know the filmmaker Michèle Stephenson: a militant with sincere and objectives eyes.

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Archive: An n’ Pale ak Franketiénne, August 26th 2010


44821_465565896829_1351163_n At Housingworks Bookstore Cafe, Franketienne opened the evening with an a capella call to Legba. He joined us on that warm Thursday evening to discuss La miraculeuse féconde créativité du peuple haïtien, or The amazing and prolific creativity of the Haitian People – a look into the many facets and myths that shape the Haitian soul. We were joined by 100 guests at HousingWorks, some of whom stayed even without seats to see the then-Nobel-Laureate nominee discuss his work and the misery, poverty, and devastation of Haiti and its effect on the creativity of the Haitian people. He spoke of his hope for Haiti to assume an identity not as the poorest country in the western hemisphere, but as a wealth of artists and artisans, culture, and creativity. FrankEtiénne is the author of more than 40 publications in French and Kreyòl, including, poems, essays and plays. His most recent play, “Melovivi, the Trap”, was completed in November 2009 and is considered a premonitory vision of the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010.  Mr. Etiénne was recently appointed UNESCO artist for peace to promote the agency’s program on books and linguistic diversity. Thank you to HousingWorks for their cooperation for providing the venue for this exciting event!

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