Believing in Poetry in Haiti – Part II

As of January 12, it has been six years since the devastating Haiti earthquake. But there are signs of resilient hope in this country. Part II of my reflections on literacy, poetry, and my time in Haiti has been posted over at Relief Journal. Here’s an excerpt.


Believing in Poetry in Haiti – Part 2 (Read Part 1 here)

“Create dangerously, for people who read dangerously. This is what I’ve always thought it meant to be a writer. Writing, knowing in part that no matter how trivial your words may seem, someday, somewhere, someone may risk his or her life to read them.”

Photo: World Renew
Photo: World Renew

Edwidge Danticat

A group of Haitian men and women sit around tables in a classroom with small windows. Fans are whirring, cutting some thickness from the warm morning air. The instructor, Lunise, is teaching Chapter 4 of a literacy program in a language I do not know. She translates for me when she can, but her main focus is, as it should be, on her class. Despite the distance of my foreigner’s ear, I am grateful to be among these attentive literacy students for an hour. I make a note to try and use “we” and “our” when I write about this later.

We are learning in Creole. I have been told this is not the educational language of choice for most Haitians. Most of them would prefer to learn in French, since it is considered the language of the elite. But French would be an extra step for learners who already know word meanings and organize their thoughts in Creole. The incorporation of poetry helps make the familiar fresh. “Poetry makes Creole attractive and new for them again,” Lunise told me. I like that, a familiar language reborn through a literary form.

Continue reading.


2 thoughts on “Believing in Poetry in Haiti – Part II”

  1. Hi Adele,
    Beautiful article on poetry in Haiti. Thanks for sharing your insights with the world through your writing. Haiti has been my wife Serena’s second home for fifteen years, as she is a physician working for PIH on assignment to GHESKIO. I was particularly struck by your statement: “I bristle at that word, so often used in missions-speak about “bringing God” to a country or community.” We are of common mind there. Please keep up your important work.
    Mark Tompkins
    PS: I found my way to your website after seeing your GoodReads rating of my novel The Last Days of Magic.

    1. Hi Mark — thanks so very much for your comment. So honoured that you stopped by, and that my Haiti reflection was a good read for you. It sounds like your wife is doing wonderful work in Haiti. It is such a vibrant country. And I also want to thank you for your excellent, lyrical, spirited debut novel. My husband, who is of Irish descent, got a special thrill from the mention of “Galloglaich” because his/our name Gallogly. And he zipped through the book in a weekend, utterly enthralled. Continued success on your writing. Thanks again for your note. Best wishes!


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s