Felix Morisseau-Leroy, first significant Poet to write in Haitian Creole

The list of ordinary men, not kings or presidents or any other in an official capacity, who have influenced true and lasting forward movement in their home countries, is a short one. The list of Haitian writers who have created a legacy of literary, social and political worth is shorter still. The efforts of one such ordinary Haitian writer puts him at the pinnacle of both lists and elevates him from an ordinary Haitian writer to a legend of extraordinary significance to Haiti, it's Diaspora and many other countries in the world.


Morisseau-Leroy lived a long life from 1912 to 1998. At the beginning, his upbringing in a prosperous mulatto family saw him well-educated and fluent in French and English. His lucky, unchallenged existence was soon broadened by the addition of a wife, whom he credited as his muse, who famously admired his horsemanship, and would later give him three children.

Morisseau-Leroy studied at Columbia University in the United States in the 1940's. He would return to Haiti and take up a teaching post which re-exposed him to the Creole language and its potential for great literary expression.

He started creating works, much like Shakespeare did with English, in this unaccepted language, most famously a Creole retelling of Antigone (Wa Kreyon). Its influence was so strong that Morisseau-Leroy was invited to Paris for its production. Forced out of the country during the Duvalier rule, Morisseau-Leroy kept Haiti and the Creole, which inspired him, close to heart. For his advocacy and role in the acceptance of Creole as an official Haitian Language, sanctioned by Aristide in 1991, his other great literary works, his time as a teacher in Ghana, Senegal, Nigeria and France, Morisseau-Leroy will long be remembered as one of the greatest of Haiti's greatest writers.

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