art in all its forms

art in all its forms


On the brink of possibility

Cover by Pasko Merisier for the latest issue of The Caribbean Writer.

The Caribbean Writer has published its 25th Anniversary issue, a bi-lingual edition dedicated to Haiti.  The 640-page edition features 70 pages of poetry from Caribbean poets including Kamau Brathwaite, the talented Jennifer Rahim, Ernest Pepin and Sonia Sanchez. There is also a section on prose, as well as a section on Haitian art, and interviews with novelist Earl Lovelace (who recently won the 2011 Caribbean Literary Prize and is interviewed by Alake Pilgrim) and Elizabeth Nunez. Contributions from Lelawattee Manoo-Rahming, Edwidge Danticat, Merle Hodge and are also featured.

One of my favorite pieces in the edition is 'Haiti' by Jennifer Rahim. The poem uses the problem of language as a starting point to debate the place of Haiti in modern society. Just as language reveals a development long in train before current idioms, Haiti's fate is tied to a specific historical context. For those of you who aren't in the mood for French, here is a short english extract:

By Jennifer Rahim

For the earth has spoken,
to you, her magma Creole.

Full-throated syllables, up-
rising from deep down,

an honest elocution –

"History aligns our fate and all that's left is to make the best of what we are presented with," argues editor Opal Palmer Adisa in an introductory text to the special edition. I would not be so bold to state this as this volume's thesis, though such a claim is not implausible. This is a rich volume, with important provocative thoughts on Haiti:

"Haiti came into my consciousness as the place of the first successful revolution....What makes one create a system where every person in the society has a sense of their own power and of some path that they are journeying to change the old order? Are we committed to continuing the struggle to understand and live out what it means to be equally human? Here is a grand new terrain. Here are people on the brink of creating a new world, on the brink of possibility."


"In the current prolonged, slow-motion disaster, the images that stay in my mind are of squalid refugee-camp conditions in the midst of which people somehow manage to keep their children in clean clothes; cheeks fat and eyes bright; little girls hair braided with care, prettied-up almost defiantly with bobbles and boclips...But 'this remarkable people' is us – the people of the Caribbean."

–MERLE HODGE, p. 244

I am pleased to have two of my poems, 'Aid' and 'Golden Grove' (complete with French translations by Fedon Honore) included in this volume. Here is a sample from the French section for those of you interested in such things:

Par Andre Bagoo
Ramper par terre, c'est creuser, c'est respirer 
la crasse. L'oxygène, c'est du rocher

Le pillage se transforme en mode de vie
pendant que les embarcadères débordent: 
vingt cinq étages applaudissent

Les palais vides vous mangeront.
Le débris libéré, rempli.
Si les murs ne vous crevaient
ceux qui vous manquent le feraient

Traduction de l'anglais par Fédon Honoré 28/12/2010

READ more here.

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