InnerView w/ Voices from Haiti

I had my first online interview with fellow Haitian writer Katia Ulysse, sister to the wonderful poet, activist, and anthropology professor Gina Athena Ulysse. Katia did an excellent job of stringing my words together to come with a lyrical narrative. I don’t think I went on for so long about myself. Maybe I did. It’s the story I was telling. I love telling folks how I re-met and met my long lost sisters. One six weeks before the Haitian earthquake. The other, six weeks after.

Here’s an excerpt:

I like the concept of placing Haiti in the future. We have to imagine the future. American culture imagines its future all the time, whether it’s ten or one hundred years down the line. . . It’s a way to step back (and forward), and see the larger picture of who we are. I want to see more futuristic fiction. Haitian Sci Fi. Why not?

Imagination, in a way, is a luxury. It’s a luxury to be able to write and have others read your work; and then there’s the added socio-economic divide in the publishing landscape; there is the question of who gets to tell the stories. Still, Haiti is moving toward new narratives. We have needed new narratives for a long time. A new narrative, however, can spring only from something huge happening—a shift in the psyche of the people. New stories are coming out from Haitian writers today, but we need more. The revolution gave us countless tales. The various dictatorships did so, as well. The earthquake has given us a major shift. We have to take advantage of that.

You can read the rest of the InnerView here.

A few days later, my sister Ingrid e-mailed to tell me that she was in tears reading the Creole version of the interview. That was truly an honor for me. It’s one thing to be able to tell my story, but to have it translated so that the people that matter most–my family in Haiti–can read it is truly humbling. And Katia did an excellent job with the translation. I wished the words actually flowed out of my mouth that way. There’s so much passion and…color in Creole words–that imperfect blend of numerous African dialects, Taino/Arawak, and French. The Africaness is more pronounced though.

This is a picture of my sister Ingrid and I when we were about 3 or 4 years old in Les Cayes, Haiti.

Culture, Family, Haiti, interview, Writing

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