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Writing from Haiti

January 2013

Three years ago this month, a massive earthquake shook Haiti, devastating a country already battered by poverty and disease. In this issue writers describe both the immediate and long-range effects of the disaster on Haiti’s people and its literature. In a raw tale written only days after the quake, Évelyne Trouillot documents the survival instinct. Kettly Mars paints a grim picture of life in the camps. Lyonel Trouillot searches for survivors. Yanick Lahens reflects on faults and time. In poetry, Guy-Gerald Ménard enters a season of mourning, while Louis-Philippe Dalembert finds a city on life support, and James Noël speaks to the dead. And Nadève Ménard describes the resilience of the Haitian literary community. As new catastrophes drive earlier disasters out of the headlines and off the radar, these writers remind us that Haiti’s recovery is far from complete.

Primal Needs
By Évelyne Trouillot
Was there still a second floor? Don’t think about it.
Translated from French by Paul Curtis Daw
Time Stretches Out and My Words Do, Too
By Yanick Lahens
I keep saying that Haiti is neither a postcard nor a nightmare.
Translated from French by David Ball & Nicole Ball
from “At the Borders of Thirst”
By Kettly Mars
You needed a guide, one of those men who lived off the flesh and blood of the camp.
Translated from French by David Ball & Nicole Ball
January 12, 2010
By Lyonel Trouillot
We already know there are no words for saying some things.
Translated from French by Linda Coverdale
Port-au-Prince on an IV Drip
By Louis-Philippe Dalembert
drip drop / port-au-prince’s life slips away
Translated from Haitian Creole by Nadève Ménard
Season of Grief
By Guy-Gerald Ménard
Entwined concrete houses / perform pirouettes on both sides of the street
Translated from Haitian Creole by Chantal Kenol
Under the Rubble
By Guy-Gerald Ménard
Fear sets up a tent / on our chest
Translated from Haitian Creole by Chantal Kenol
Neverending Story: Haiti’s Vibrant Literary Sphere Endures
By Nadève Ménard
The temblor of January 10, 2010, has become part of Haiti’s literary landscape.
In All Magnitude
By James Noël
I abhor humanitarianism.
Translated from French by Antoine Bargel & Alexis Pernsteiner