Not all writers begin their stories at the same place. Since 'Once upon a time' isn't half so important as the 'Happily ever after', it is no strike against her that Marie-Célie Agnant didn't begin her personal narrative at the same start as others in the field of literature, as an aspiring writer.
Born in the Haitian capital city, Port-au-Princ, in 1953, Agnant worked as an interpreter and as a translator for many years. After moving to Quebec, Canada at the start of the 70's she also worked as a French teacher before reentering the world as a storyteller. With many shorts, full blown novels, children's books and poems under her belt, Agnant has truly transitioned into a storyteller of more than simple worth to the Haitian literary heritage.
Haiti's great writers seem to have an added edge that their contemporaries from other countries, on the same mass scale, simply don't. Along with the accolades of a 'good name' in the literary world, acclaimed works that will live on in posterity due to their massive capacity to inspire understanding, pathos and new knowledge in their readerships, and the ever entertaining narrative of simply good writing chops, the authors hailing from the country have an added layer of grit that often sees them in trouble with authority.
Not one to be left out of this distinction, Josaphat-Robert Large, novelist, poet and art critic, has too walked this seemingly prescribed path of any Haitian writer worth his or her salt. Born in November of 1942, Large grew up under the stifling Duvalier rule and found himself personally affected by the 'absurd order' given for students to stay home on an unlimited vacation, as answer to the student strike. His answer was to take to the streets, a specific ban having been imposed, and he was jailed for his temerity.
A great Haitian has passed away. Prominent Haitian historian Georges Corvington. According to the report, he died of heart failure at the age of 88, this Wednesday, April 3, 2013.
Historian Georges Corvington was born in 1926 in Port-au-Prince. He became President of the Society of History and Geography and was decorated Living National Treasure in January 2009
Mr. Corvington started his writing career in the 70s. His subjects include Port-au-prince, the national Palace and Haiti National Cathedral. These buildings were bot destroyed by the 2010 Haiti earthquake. One of his most successful publication was "Port-au-Prince Through the Ages" , a history of Haiti from the colonization period all the way to the government of Paul Eugene Magloire in 1956.
The repertoire of award-winning author Edwidge Danticat includes an entry to Oprah's book club as well as critically acclaimed autobiographical epics. Whether she's written a novel or a short story collection, readers are bound to get a story that deals with the difficulties and tensions of living life in a foreign land.
In the memoir 'Brother, I'm Dying' Danticat presented the story of her life and those of the two men she loved the most, her father and his older brother, who both died in a year that brought life's complexities starkly to her mind as, while dealing with death, she also welcomed life with the birth of her daughter.
Highly-honored Haitian-American writer, Edwidge Danticat began life in Port-au-Prince in 1969. Her parents abandoned her to the care of her paternal uncle while they pursued a better life in America, leaving her with him for eight years in one of Port-au-Prince's worst neighborhoods.
When she was a pre-teen her parents requested she come and live with them in a suburb outside of Manhattan. She arrived and was enrolled in school where her inability to speak English caused students to bully her. Undaunted, she persevered and learned English well enough to submit an article, "A Haitian-American Christmas: Cremas and Créole Theatre" to a teen publication.
Justin Chrysostome Dorsainvil, popularly known as J.C. Dorsainvil, was and educator and an author. He was born on 1880 and died in the year 1942. He was born in the city of Port-au-Prince and after receiving his education in Haiti, he worked as a teacher. Justin Chrysostome Dorsainvil write several books and all his works concentrated on Haitian society, Haitian history, Haitian politics and science. He also wrote on Haitian Voodoo or Vodou culture. Overall he has 25 literary works under his belt with 70 publications in three different languages.
Some of the notable works by Justin Chrysostome Dorsainvil include Vaudou et Névrose published in 1913, Une Explication Philologique du Vaudou published in 1924, Vaudou et Magie published in 1937, Le Problème de l'Enseignement Primaire en Haïti published in 1922 and Quelques Vues Politiques et Morales published in 1934. Some of his books have been digitized and Vaudou et Névrose is one of them that was digitized in 2008.
Cap-Haitien-born Anténor Firmin was one of the earliest scholars to write on the subject of negritude. Conceivably the first anthropologist of color, he introduced the notion of human anthropology as allied with the study of racial characteristics.
During the late 1800s, a strain of thinking pervaded U.S. and European intellectual circles, arguing the African race as low on the evolutionary scale in comparison to Caucasians. The French were dominating the conversation of the African race as intellectually inferior, due to misguided assumptions of racial differences. A prominent French author, Count Arthur de Gobineau, published "Essay on the Inequality of Human Races" that posited supremacy of the Aryan people over Africans and other dark-skinned races.
Becoming Haiti's first recognized painter was undoubtedly no small feat to Petion Savain. Born in February of 1906, he didn't start seriously painting until 1927, having spent his life and time before teaching tin smithing, cabinet making and wrought iron at the same vocational school. He'd also had an interest in photography and reportedly dabbled in painting, having studied some drawing at school.
It was a brush with American painter, William Edouard Scott, in Haiti in 1930 to paint, that sparked Savain's lasting interest in the field he would be most remembered for. It is said he then taught himself to paint and created a style which would be copied by many later admirers. A Savain painting, recognizable by its distinct purples and pinks, or by the semi-circular or triangular aspects of crouched or sitting figures, is an uncommon luxury to own.
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