Believing in Poetry in Haiti – Part 1

IMG_4759-1024x993Relief Journal is an online and print publication that aims to “pursue a complete picture of Christ and life –- real, gritty, painful, wonderful, this-side-of-heaven life.”

I have a short piece up on the Relief Journal blog about my trip to Haiti with World Renew to visit literacy projects. It was an honour to be able to explore this vibrant country and see how the gift of literacy is changing lives. I also had the chance to explore some cultural sites and visit some agricultural projects. It was a brief trip but a powerful glimpse of the great work happening through World Renew and its local partners in Haiti.

I have posted a beginning excerpt from my piece, “Believing in Poetry in Haiti – Part 1”, below. I highly recommend, however, that you head over to the Relief Journal site to see what this publication is all about. An entire team of bloggers are regularly sharing thoughtful, lyrical posts. Relief is also hard at work on their next print issue and has many other exciting transitions and plans on the go (find out more in this note from Editor-in-Chief, Daniel Bowman Jr). The website will be updated to reflect some of these changes. For now, though, Facebook and Twitter are good places to keep up with this journal about the intersection of art and faith.

Thanks for reading.

Believing in Poetry in Haiti – Part 1

I believe in poetry as a way of surviving the emotional chaos, spiritual confusions and traumatic events that come with being alive.
Gregory Orr (as posted by Image Journal)

This quote comes up on my Facebook feed while I am straining for a wireless signal from a humid guesthouse in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. I am a few days into a work trip as a staff writer at a disaster relief and community development agency. Sweat gathers in my back. My eyes are dry from a full day in contact lenses I rarely wear. I have just finished a supper of spicy beef and beans over rice accompanied by bread and mango juice, both fresh.

I am safely accommodated here in this bustling metropolis, where honking cars and colorful tap tap crowd the narrow streets bordered by litter-clogged gutters. Here, where bright purple flowers spill out over barbed wire-topped gates and roadside vendors sell wares ranging from intricate handcrafted metal art to unlabeled pill bottles.

Safety and comfort have been rare commodities in Haiti. Just over twenty-one decades ago, this nation claimed independence after the first successful slave revolt in human history. Just over five years ago, a horrific shaking of the earth killed an estimated two hundred thousand people and reduced buildings in the city and countryside to rubble.

What might it mean to believe in poetry as “a way of surviving” here, in this place of concrete streets and mountain crests, poverty and creativity,  political corruption and revolution? As a visitor—a foreigner with a notepad and a fixed agenda—I cannot of course know completely. I can only glimpse and theorize and listen as I meet with project leaders and literacy students in my path.

Read the rest here.

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