vendredi 27 avril 2012

Open for Business?

Depi kèk tan, gen yon slogan ki vin alamòd pa bò isit ki fè konnen Ayiti ouvri pou biznis -- Haiti is open for business. Pawòl sa a nan bouch dirijan ak nan bouch etranje ki gen enterè isit. Plizyè moun, isit kou lòtbò ap eseye konprann kisa sa vle di. Lòt jou, pitit mwen rive lekòl avèk anpil reta paske depi gwo lapli tonbe wout bò lakay mwen tounen larivyè. Yè maten, mwen jwenn wout kote m abitye pase pou m al travay Lekòl Nòmal bloke. M pa konn pou ki rezon, ni m pa konn kilès ki deside bloke l. M kase tèt tounen, chèche yon lòt wout. Depi kèk mwa, mwen pa kapab fin rive devan Lekòl Nòmal ak machin mwen paske lari a tounen yon pakin. M pa konn si gen anons ofisyèl ki te fèt sou sa. Antouka, se rive m rive yon jou maten mwen wè machin pake tout devan Lekòl la. Si Ayiti ouvri pou biznis, m pa konn pou ki moun. Petèt pou moun ki gen elikoptè.

Men depi semenn pase a, gen yon kote ki ouvri pou biznis vre. Plis pase 2 ane apre tranblemantè 12 janvye 2010 ki te kraze Lekòl Nòmal la, bibliyotèk la resi ouvri pòt li. Lè m di bibliyotèk, se poko yon vre bibliyotèk inivèsitè kote etidyan ak pwofesè kapab fè rechèch avanse nan domenn yo. Men se yon kote nou kapab konsilte liv, kote nou kapab li. Chans pou nou pi fò liv ki te deja nan bibliyotèk la pat pèdi an 2010.

Gen nouvo liv tou ki vin ajoute sou sa k te la deja. Nan dènye tèks mwen te fè pou ane 2011 lan, mwen te   di jan m te apresye jès etidyan Régine yo ki te voye liv pou pataje ak kominote Lekòl Nòmal la. Fòk nou remesye tou Mark Schuller ki fè bibliyotèk Lekòl Nòmal la kado yon egzanplè Tectonic Shifts, yon liv li kowòdone sou sitiyasyon peyi a depi 12 janvye 2010. Claudine Michel ki se yon ansyen etidyan Lekòl Nòmal dirije Journal of Haitian Studies, yon revi ki spesyalize l nan domenn etid kap fèt sou Ayiti. Claudine fenk voye pi fò nimewo revi a bay bibliyotèk la pou ajoute sou seri nou te deja resevwa an 2008. Ane pase, Gina Ulysse te kowòdone yon nimewo spesyal revi Meridians ki rele Pawòl fanm sou douz janvye. Gen yon egzanplè nan bibliyotèk la. Genyen tou Dictionnaire des écrivains francophones classiques ki ka sèvi kòm referans pou etidyan seksyon Lèt Modèn lan menm jan ak nimewo spesyal The Caribbean Writer a fè sou Ayiti. Gen yon egzanplè liv mwen edite a, Ecrits d'Haiti ki disponib nan bibliyotèk la tou. Kounyè a se plis etajè nou bezwen pou li kapab pi fasil pou nou konsilte tout liv sa yo! Mwen swete kominote Lekòl Nòmal la ap chèche itilize tout resous bibliyotèk la gen pou l ofri. M ap tou pwofite remesye ekip kap travay nan bibliyotèk la, ki pa janm mete m deyò menm lè yo wè m souvan! 

Se vre resous bibliyotèk la limite. Tankou resous tout inivèsite a. Semenn sa a rektora inivèsite deta dayiti ansanm ak pifò fakilte l yo lanse yon mouvman pou mete sosyete a okouran pwoblèm grav inivèsite a genyen pou l fonksyone. Se yon fason tou pou fòse dirijan yo ajiste bidjè nasyonal la pou l ann akò avèk enpòtans edikasyon dwe genyen nan sosyete a. Li pa nòmal pou inivèsite leta a resevwa sèlman 0.54% bidjè a. Kijan pou inivèsite a jwe wòl li nan sosyete a nan kondisyon sa yo? Kòman pou li fòme kad pou jere biznis (Ayiti) dirijan yo deklare k ouvri a? Petèt tou otorite yo panse inivèsite a pa nesesè pou kalite biznis yo vle ouvri a. Antouka, mwen kontan omwen ti bibliyotèk Lekòl Nòmal la ouvri pou biznis vre. 


jeudi 12 avril 2012

Tande's Second Anniversary!

Last week, April 6th was the second anniversary of this blog.  In my "other life" as the mother of two little boys, ages 4 and 3, I have become fond of taking their birthdays to think about the actual days of their births, remembering the trip to the hospital etc.  When I have my birthday I like to reflect on the year, to appreciate the blessings, and to set new goals.  Since this blog is in a way both our child, and a piece of ourselves, I am taking the occasion to do each of these for this post.

When we began this blog it was because we wanted a place to discuss our thoughts on Haitian literature and culture outside of an academic context.   How to approach the former was obvious.  Two trained literary scholars and professors, avid consumers of books by or about Haitians, books written in French, Kreyòl or English, books of all kinds from all disciplines, our love for reading and learning about and critically analyzing scholarly and literary material related to Haiti was one of the main reasons for this pursuit.  It is from this perspective that we share our reviews of books, about our experience in the classroom, contemplate our syllabi, and report on literary festivals.  Yet this is not a blog only on literature like Writers of Haiti or Thomas Spear's exhaustive Île-en-île both of which focus exclusively on writing.

The second area, "culture," is perhaps harder to define.  There is first "culture" in the sense of traditions, beliefs, and practices that are focused on Haiti.  But, as my anthropologist friends enjoy asking what do we really mean by culture?  Are we referring to that ubiquitous complex whole which includes beliefs, knowledge, morals arts and institutions?  Are we claiming that there is a definitive and exclusive set of the aforementioned that can be labeled as Haitian culture?  In other words if culture is always evolving, shouldn't the scope of what we cover in this area always be evolving as well?  A cognitive definition of culture extends to the social and communicative aspects of life, which include language, gestures, and various practices.  As someone who approaches much of my scholarship from the perspective of cultural studies--a field that stems from literary criticism--I am certainly invested in approaching these topics in a way that is also critical about the position from which I enter and in relation to power relations and social dynamics.  There is a difference, cultural studies reminds us, between studying "culture" as in how a group of people bound by a national identity do things and cultures as in subcultural fields.  For example Jean-Price Mars' Ainsi parla l'oncle stands as a classic example of an exploration of Haitian culture through a focus on folklore, Kreyòl language and African ancestral roots.  

Determining the balance between how we understand culture, and what constitutes culture and how we represent it in this blog has been one of our greatest challenges and achievements.  There have been times that we have considered approaching topics such as the presidential election, but were not certain about which cultural angle to take.  President Martelly presented a rich opportunity for us to explore the intersection of music, celebrity and politics but we were hesitant to delve into politics with much of the conversation in the Haitian blogosphere already covering this area.   

A New York Times article on the celebrated Orchestre Septentrional had a nice quote on the importance of highlighting the sonic elements of Haitian culture.  According to Whitney Dow whose documentary "When the Drum is Beating" airs on PBS tonight, “Because music is not just a source of entertainment, but one of the primary elements within Haitian culture, it offers a different path into the country..." Indeed this is one of the main reasons that we find it important to think about culture, both broadly and narrowly in different forms.  Yet more often than not our focus on culture has taken it to mean art forms beyond the literary—we’ve had posts on music and painting and in the future you can expect posts on film as well. 

To this end one of my goals for our third year will be to post more frequently about visual culture, and in particular on photography.  Perhaps through a post on Daniel Morel or Régine Romain, whose work I find so compelling, or through an exploration of how creative writers like Myriam Chancy and Patrick Sylvain also express their artistry through photography.  My other goal relates back to one of my posts earlier in the year, the one on Gina Ulysse for the Moun nou section.  Because of my own work I have benefited from an amazing community of Haitian scholars, artists, intellectuals and activists whose work inspires me and enriches my scholarship.  One of the goals of Moun nou is to profile some of these people in a way that also describes their impact not only in the broad field of Haitian representation, but also on what their work means to us.  I suppose this could also be thought of as a way to make what we cover a bit more personal which is one of the benefits of blogging compared to academic writing!

Among the best parts of doing this blog is of course the partnership aspect.  Nadève and I have known each other for over a decade, but collaborating on the blog has energized or friendship, sharpened our intellect, and opened us to new ways of thinking.  It is truly a transnational exchange between two women--writers, scholars, friends, professors, mothers, and thinkers passionate about engaging Haiti in the arts and the letters--that we continue with pleasure into its third year.  So with that I say chapo ba to you my sister blogger, and happy birthday to Tande! 


mardi 3 avril 2012

Haitian women writers et bonus

As I stated in my previous post, I was invited to speak at Swarthmore College last week. Thanks so much to Micheline Rice-Maximin for the invite! The title of my talk was Women Write Haiti and during the question and answer session, someone asked me to post a list of Haitian women writers. As I said on Friday, there are many of them -- too many to name them all. I invite you to explore this list compiled by the good people at Women Writers of Haitian Descent.

Let me also write out the names of the authors I mentioned in my talk. I know it can be heard to catch them if you're not familiar with French, don't see them written, or if the speaker talks too fast! I'm listing them "in order of appearance" and including links to bios where available or to English translations of their books. Happy Reading!

Cléante Valcin
Annie Desroy
Janine Tavernier
Jacqueline Beaugé-Rosier
Jessica Fièvre
Madeleine Sylvain Bouchereau
Madeleine Gardiner
Marie-Alice Théard
Myriam Chancy
Yanick Lahens
Kettly Mars
Evelyne Trouillot
Virginie Sampeur
Mona Guérin
Jacqueline Scott Lemoine
Paulette Poujol Oriol
Barbara Bastien 
Cynthia Bastien
Marie Chauvet
Lilas Desquiron
Marie-Célie Agnant
Edwidge Danticat
Emmelie Prophète
Jaira Placide
Katia Ulysse

En ce qui concerne le bonus: les lecteurs avides sont toujours à la recherche de livres. Si possible, pour pas cher et pourquoi pas gratuit? Figurez-vous que j'ai reçu cette semaine des liens pour des livres gratuits que je m'empresse de partager avec vous. Qui sait? Peut-être qu'on y trouvera des femmes auteures méconnues!

Ebooks libres & gratuits
Project Gutenberg
Livres pour tous
Livres & Ebooks
Bibliothèque et Archives Nationales du Québec