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Poetry Slam Celebrating Haitian Women
« île en île » - page d'accueil

Organized in honor of Women's History Month, this event was held in the East Dining Room in the Music Building at Lehman College of the City University of New York (CUNY) on Monday afternoon, March 28, 2011.

Celebrating Haitian Women

Francesca André, Jean-Dany Joachim

(in order of appearance)
Melissa Beauvery
Jeanie Bogart
Jennifer Célestin
Chukwuma Ndukwe
Kerline Devise
Anderson Dovilas
Vladimir Cybil Charlier
Denizé Lauture

77 minute program
with eight separate video clips of featured poets

Melissa Beauvery
MCs: Jean-Dany Joachim, Francesca André


Click above to view entire program; see below for individual performances and texts.
Ci-dessus, l'événement en entier. Voir ci-dessous pour les textes et les extraits.

start - Welcoming remarks: Thomas C. Spear

01:35 - Introductions by emcees: Francesca André and Jean-Dany Joachim

09:01 - Melissa Beauvery: "Fanm Kanson" and "My Grandmother's Tongue"

19:06 - Jeanie Bogart: "Woman" and "Le cri"

28:29 - Jennifer Celestin: "Chasing Summer" and selections from "The Taking Series"

35:34 - Chukwuma Ndukwe: "Miss Pretty Eyes", "Ode to La Bella" and "April Showers"

41:10 - Kerline Devise: "Ma nudité"

42:26 - Anderson Dovilas: "Assonance" and "Pwezi pèfòmans"

48:48 - Vladimir Cybil Charlier: selections from Tourist Art (text by Gabrielle Civil)

52:31 - Denizé Lauture: selections from The Cactus Legend

01:03:09 - Intermission: Anderson Dovilas and Annette Lipson, drums

01:03:53 - Jeanie Bogart: "A la foli"

01:05:29 - Jennifer Celestin: "Nocturnity"

01:07:16 - Melissa Beauvery: "My Vendor" ("Gason")

01:12:09 - Closing remarks, thanks, and presentation of Haiti Cultural Exchange

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Melissa Beauvery performs "My Grandmother's Tongue" and other poems
     start - Famn Kanson
     05:03 - My Grandmother's Tongue
     09:48 - My Vendor (Gason)

Melissa Beauvery

espace Melissa Beauvery

Fanm Kanson

Li gen grenn pase berejen She has more seeds than an eggplant.
In her ovaries she holds millions of seeds containing strength, endurance and vigilance.
Fanm Kanson
Secretions of testosterone are in your undergarments.
You rise before the roosters to take on dangerous roads kafou danjere.
You clear the many paths with the deep calluses of your feet.
Each toe gripping the dirt.
The earth is yours, your majesty.
You are Defile, you bury me with dignity
Picking me up when I am left for garbage,
They call you crazy –
Insane for seeing past your gated reality…
Fanm Kanson
The original story teller,
Every line in your palms tells a story as you grip many baskets.
Your troket, the cushion that buffers your crown
and the heavy load you carry.
Your shoulders are erect with pride.
Sprouting from the earth
Your body is the in root of every tree.
No one knows, exactly what is in your heart.
It is on your road, your narrative begins.
Your eyes have seen it all.
But you don't allow them wander, your head remains regal.
Like the beauty queen that you are –
Senti mare your tied waist, your life line
Cloth vendor, red and blue, my Catherine Flon.
Pieces of brighter tomorrow, pieces of glory –
You make me whole.
Even as you are transported, to bitter cold climates
You never forget yourself.
That grandmother with lines on your face that mirrors
The lines of the most comforting Psalms of a Bible.
In your kitchen, every ingredient creates a memory.
You are the joumou pumpkin vendor on Church Ave in Brooklyn.
If pots could speak, they would say how you struggle
To feed your household –
Your spices would tell how you pinch them with affection.
The sacred leaves of your teas heal every pain:
Nostalgia, melancholy, solitude…
Your devotion is unmatched
Fanm Kanson
Your integrity speaks volumes
Renn Chantrel songstress
You are the luminary of this musical we call life.
Your songs of hope tickle my earlobes.
You are never too weary or terrified to accept any challenge.
Kanson fe Iron pants
Your flaming spirit melts away daily struggle.
Li gen grenn pase berejen
She has more seeds than an eggplant
Your layers of muscle spread thickly throughout your whole being.
With your heart being the strongest-
The arteries that grip your heart are branches in the oldest Mapou trees.
One ! Respe ! Fanm Kanson.

My Grandmother's Tongue

In her left bosom near her heart of course,
her words are tightly tucked, where secretions of milk once fell
White, like the pages I anticipate to write on,
Like the wedding dress she never had
Like the teeth that was once present
Like her eyes that led me to her in the dark evenings.
Le w pa jwen manman ou tete grann
I wasn't sure how to find you manman.
But grandma was always there in your absence
Sheltering me
Consoling me with colorful phrases inculcated with your tongue of Africa, and those of the colonizers.
That my peoples still strive to speak fluently, but thick lips won't allow
But to hear grann say, in the sharpest tone:
Vini la tifi, ou pa tande map rele w, pa ranse ave m non
Was more beautiful than any Shakespeare line, any quote from The Raven
Meant more to me than that her attempted phrases in English and French:
I love you sweetheart, tu sais que je t'aime?
You didn't have to tell me gran because I knew,
Bel fanm neges
(M renmen w)
M renmen w

More than those words can ever illustrate
Than any kiss can ever demonstrate.
As I watch you in front of your pilon
Pounding the spices of love,
Love smelled like onions, garlic and hot pepper
Felt sticky like lwil pa maskreti
Sounded like your giggle when I speak to you in my thick accent
Rete sa blan di la ?
I wanted to keep you with me grann.
Past the trip to the airport, past the American Airlines flight back to New York, past the frigid energy that greets me after leaving you.
I am so proud
Even as I am ridiculed in school, "oh you are Haitian? She's Haitian! Haitian Booty scratcher! She Has HBO, Haitian Body Odor!"
I was unfazed,
It could've been easy to deny, because my tongue shows no traces of you…
But I couldn't
I admired you too much grann, I wanted to smell like you, a light jasmine, basil and that strong underarm odor.
Your scent more appealing than any French perfume you received on Christmas,
That you decided not to wear.
You smelled like a hard-working woman, your stench perhaps wasn't acceptable here.
But I only cared to be accepted by you.
So counting the days until summer, until I could be with you
I waited for the tapes you'd send, recording an hour of love
In your beautiful tongue.
I felt your coarse hands
Saw your beautiful dark skin
Your colorful skirts
Your toothless smile
Your short spiked hair
Descriptions of a goddess…
I miss you grann, now that I am older and you have gone anba dlo
I no longer anticipate the summer.
Insomnia has befriended me.
Instead of counting sheep, I count words until I fall asleep
Your words grann, and those you didn't teach me

Renmen, mabouya, zel, soley, chaloska, chwal, zono cacao, lwil, grenn, zandolit, lestomak, dyol, toutouni, loray, dife, sayle, lawouze, mouchwa, lamidon, kochon, bouji, lalin, lonbrik…

Until I drift off, meeting you in a dream where I am small child holding on to your carabella skirt as if my life depended on it.


My Vendor

There is a shadow in his bouret, the shadow of his skeletal chest –
Inflating, deflating, inflating, deflating with droplets of sweat that trickle
All throughout empty bone spaces on skin, making its way down
To his splendid pelvis –
I hear your song
You. Sugarcane vendor you,
You really know how to sweeten me up.
Despite the look of melancholy engraved on your face.
Or your brisk salutations as you take 5 goud from me
Not even looking into my eyes
Because the fogged red in your once white eyeballs
Tell too much, more than you would ever admit
You will always be my shining knight and armor.
That man that presents himself in my dreams
The man that helps me regain balance when I trip on cracked streets of Potoprens
Without even expecting a thank you
Your load, heavier than anyone could imagine.
Too much for any bouret to carry, that you carry.
Because no one else will.
I know that you sometimes cry in the dark corridors.
With a Comme Il Faut as the only thing that brushes against your lips at night.
You would offer any woman the world if you could.
If it was in your fate, your destiny, heck! Your heritage
Grunts as you push your bouret through the crowded streets of the city.
That has been dismantled before your eyelids.
But still, offer that sweetness. You, sugarcane vendor.
Ou fe m dous
You spend your long days cutting cane with flies as your only companion.
Grunt to cover the words to wish to say as you pass a brother of yours.
That has the same grievance but you don't dare share a word.
There are no group therapy sessions or doctor Phils here.
A shot of kleren maybe
A lit candle maybe
A plea to the ancestors perhaps.
But listen to the ringing of bells.
So magical, so alluring
The shoeshiner is now ringing his bell
With his shirt pressed against his flesh soaked with juices of many past lives
A sound of the bell so immaculate mirrors the sound of the cathedral at noon!
The sound of God is in your fingertips you! shoe shiner you!
Illuminate my path!
Your bench is a throne fit for the highest of kings.
In your rags the deepest secrets of the underworld
Ou konnen soulye se sekey
You know all of the dreadful waters.
The waters for all colored shoes.
You've seen muddy trails
And tired feet that have traveled all throughout Haiti.
Where you've helped shelter corns and bunions of calloused hearts.
But yet you offer that brilliance on shoes for those who look down on the ground with  
Chins that stay pressed on their chest.
But tell me.
Who will carry you sugarcane vendor, shoe shiner?
Who will carry you?
Who will illuminate your path?
Who will make love to you?
like an infant,
I would securely hold you to my bosom.
Where heartbeats become music
If only you would let me –
Because I know your pride is all that you have
I would rock you and sing my song for you
This time ring a bell for you just once.
Because you deserve it –
So that you can finally sleep
Where contained dreams burst,
Moistening your pillowcase creating a reality you've always wanted.

"Fanm Kanson," "My Grandmother's Tongue" and "My Vendor," by Melissa Beauvery are poems written in 2010 ("My Grandmother's Tongue") and 2011. Reproduced here with permission by the author, they appear on the spoken word CD, My Grandmother's Tongue © 2012 Melissa Lalin Briye Beauvery, tous droits réservés

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Jeanie Bogart reads "Le cri" and other poems
     start - Woman
     05:59 - Le cri
     09:23 - A la foli

espace Jeanie Bogart
Jeanie Bogart


Now see, I sat there begging my muse to help me expel my feelings
Having enough of using the never-ending language
Of the poor-overworked-hopeful Haitian woman
Tired of being
The sweet-loving-sex-friendly little Frenchie I sometimes portray
Trying to retrieve the mad woman attitude hidden in me

See ladies, he just came back telling me how much he misses me
Now I listened to him as I used to
And, suddenly, the world had closed its doors
It was just him and his voice and his eyes…
And words scattered like petals all over my life
Perfuming my every thought
Lilac, orchid, bluebell, lily…

Now he came back
Telling me how hungry he was of me
That this hunger had lived in him until this day
That he wanna discuss yes discuss our future
Heads on a pillow and a glass of whatever alcoholic nonsense in our hands

Now he came back
Needing me more than ever
"Away from all futility" he said
Describing how our territory is prohibited to intruders
And I listened to the boy
Heart beating faster than the wildest Haitian drumbeat
Dreaming already about the good ol' days
When Earth and sky became one to give habitat to our love
Asking myself: why aren't we together?

He almost took my soul away
But then, it all came back to me
His broken promises
My heart crumbling into thousands of little pieces
Dreams come crashing
Hope tumbling like feathers from the sky

He almost took my soul with all its jewels away
Despite the walls I have built all around
Despite hurt, despite sorrow

I looked in the mirror to see letters crawling up on my face
Five letters one word
W o m a n
I am woman a woman
I've been ripped off of my very being
My soul, my hope
And now he's back with his sorry self
Wanting to take more away!

Because I am strong enough to carry the burdens of his wickedness
Because I am bleeding tears inside
The tears I continuously suppressed
To protect HIM from the sadness of seeing ME cry

Now here I am
From the tribal fights and labor of Africa
To the hot mountains of Haiti
Falling in and out of the French and Spanish colonists' beds
Searching for my identity
Fighting to define my skin color

But I know one thing though
I am woman
Oh, yes I'm strong!
But what I took in
I am ready to let it all out like a squeezed sponge
And fill his damn glass with anger

I am a woman
Tired of his sorry ass flowers
Tired of his dangling tongue in a fake puppy face
A woman
Who knows HOW to juggle a worthless selfish man
And WHEN it's time to turn her back
Leaving him to crash into the prickle-filled path of his own lies

Le cri

Enfant des tropiques
fille d'esclaves suis-je
ce n'est pas une plainte
ni une lamentation
c'est un cri

un cri
pour que survive la mémoire
pour que reste l'image
des chaînes
que j'ai cassées de ma poésie
brisées de mes peurs
arrachées de mes limitations
abolies de mes discours
pour que les chaînes soient symboles
de ce qui ne sera jamais plus

enfant des tropiques
fille d'esclaves
mon pays s'inscrit en lettres de feu
dans des yeux d'enfants
la mer emporte les soupirs

mon grand-père
s'était lacéré les mains
sur les feuilles de cannes à sucre
d'une goutte de clairin sur ma langue
me souhaita la bienvenue
le jour de ma naissance

caraïbe de mes afflictions
identité rebelle

aïeux des horizons lointains
je vous berce encore
par les mélodies de ma mémoire

sur ce bateau
dont le nom m'est devenu hostile
le destin
vous avait déjà emboité le pas
sur cette terre aux parfums d'épices
la vie s'était figée
et belle fut-elle au soleil
somnolant à la tombée du jour
colorée fut-elle de créoles
à la peau de toutes les nuances

ma mémoire me frappe la poitrine
elle la gonfle de fierté
j'associe le sang à la canne à sucre
celui de mon grand-père que je n'ai pas connu
écroulé sous le fouet du colon

l'Afrique et sa brousse
me sont resté cloîtrées dans l'âme

je change de peau
je change de couleur
au gré de ma mémoire
qui se veut histoire
qui se veut avenir

dans mes yeux
une larme salée

bleu fantasme
le passé nous ficelle l'âme
le cri revient
toujours en force
à me péter la gorge
le sang de mon grand-père
versé pour rien ?
la chair broyée des nègres
mélangée à la poussière

mon pays se meurt
l'indépendance a l'air d'une farce
l'homme semble perdre la mémoire
à quatre pattes
lèche les bottes des colons modernes

je hurle
à me briser la corde vocale
l'honneur se vent
par poignées de mains vertes
l'honneur s'échange
contre un Nike un Armani un Dior

l'identité créole vilipendée
mon grand-père assassiné
une seconde fois

Non !
je ne retournerai pas aux champs de cannes
je deviendrai Gouverneur Générale
comme Michaëlle Jean
je deviendrai président
comme Obama
pour diriger les colons
pour éduquer les colons
le rêve devient réalité
ainsi soit-il !


A la foli

Mwen ekri, m ekri, m ekri
tout ti detay nan syèl
mwen ekri sou vag lanmè
sou ti flè, lamizè, lapli
mwen menm trase nanm mwen
emosyon mwen sou papye
bèl pawòl literati
bèl chema fè klenklen

Jou m kontre w cheri
tout ti mo dous kraze rak
plim mwen tranble, krache, vomi
tout chema tounen madigriji
m bliye konte, m bliye pale
je m nan je w
menm nan men w
se sèl verite

Lavi se pawòl granmoun
mariaj se koze moun fou
yon sèl mo rete nan vokabilè nou
lanmou mwen avè w
siwèl nou
rapadou nou
alfabè nou
lakansyèl nou
san nan venn nou
foumi anba po nou

Jou m kontre ak ou cheri
syèl ou fè yonn ak tè m
rivyè w koule nan lanmè m
vigil ou kontre ak pwen final mwen
m renmen w cheri
m renmen w
ak zo m, ak po m
ak nanm mwen
ak tout kò mwen
sou tout kò mwen
m renmen w nan sekrè mwen


Ces trois poèmes de Jeanie Bogart sont inédits, publiés pour la première fois sur Île en île : « Woman » (composé en 2011), « Le cri » (2008) et « A la foli » (2006). © 2013 Jeanie Bogart, tous droits réservés

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Jennifer Celestin performs "Chasing Summer" and other poems
     00:38 - Chasing the Summer
     04:10 - The Taking Series (selections)
     06:17 - Nocturnity


Jennifer Celestin

Jennifer Celestin presents three texts, "Chasing Summer," selections from "The Taking Series" and "Nocturnity."

Chasing Summer

The Taking Series







Jennifer Célestin

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Chukwuma Ndukwe performs "April Showers" and other poems
     start - Miss Pretty Eyes
     01:54 - Ode to La Bella
     03:15 - April Showers

Chukwuma Ndukwe

Chukwuma Ndukwe

Miss Pretty Eyes

They say beauty lies within the eyes of the beholder.
I say they lie. Beauty lies within your eyes.

Your eyes are eyes that bring light to this world full of darkness.
Shine bright like the new moon on a cold pitch black winter night;
They bring peace to the earth.
You have eyes that could see through the windows of the heart,
To detect a deceitful soul.
Eyes that can lift up mountains and break down steel doors.
With your eyes, you make great men fall,
To their knees and tremble--except for me of course.
I love the color of your eyes, brown as a dust cloud.
Sometimes they blaze, sometimes they get me mesmerized.
And when you're sad, they change color like the clouds of the tropics during thunder storms,
I watch the rain fall as tears roll down your eyes tracing the path of river Nile.
I swear beauty like this could only originate from one place – the motherland
You have eyes that are innocent and yet reflect sophistication.
Eyes that are blissful, eyes that are pure.
Eyes that are worthy to see God.
Eyes that redefine what it means to be beautiful.
That why I call you Miss Pretty Eyes.
Because your eyes, your eyes remind me
Of what people should be, when they are; Beautiful.

Ode to La Bella

Señora !
Your beauty is comparable to none,
More akin to the fight for supremacy between,
Sun rise and sun set during Twilight and dawn.
Heaven is where you belong.
The grace that you bestow upon the earth is
Hidden in plain view like the faces of heroes unsung.
Blind men fail to see,
The essence of life shinning from within your eye.
And your smile,
Your smile is electrifying.
That's the reason why you light up every room that you enter
Grace, radiates from your skin pores
Like sweet on an athlete after a mile run
Sending wave after wave of joy and gladness
To the souls of those who approach your presence
You epitomize love and beauty in a state,
That is most pristine and quintessential.
La Bella,
Oh how you name rolls off the tongue,
Like the words to a beautiful song,
The melody so blissful so pure and strong,
With eyes that shimmers like the northern stars – Belladonna
I speak of a beauty too deep for the eyes to see,
Too mythic for the mind to fathom.
That words and rhymes cannot describe,
So I fear this Ode I write does not suffice
For you beauty, your beauty I comparable to none.

April Showers

Brown clouds creep up slowly on the clear blue skies,
Masking daylight with darkness.
From a distance I hear dogs bark, startled
By the periodic lightning flashes and thunder clapping,
While I seat on the balcony, steering deep into the eyes of the storm,
Listening with gladness to the rhythmic sound of rain drops and hail stones,
As they sing on the rooftops made of corrugated iron sheets.
Oh that wonderful symphony that bears witness to the coming of the first rain.
It is said that when the heavens cry, the earth rejoices.
One man's tears brings another one joy, Make that a universal law.
Heavenly tears cause life to spring forth.
Sometimes I seat and recall memories of days when I was young.
Reminisce on the songs that we sang as we danced in the rain.
The taste of cold waters on my lips, the feel of wet grass on my feet,
And the fragrance of flowers that blossom on trees.
These are the simple things that I miss.
For time brings a change to all things,
And innocence is lost with the passing of the seasons.
Boys turn to men, and lose sync with Mother Nature.
So I packed my bags and left home,
For a land where rainbows lose its colors.
Where life is seen only through shades of gray,
And all we do is sit and pray; For God to send us down His grace.
But when this world gets cold and my soul gets numb,
I close my eyes and dream of home,
Where Brown Clouds patiently await my return;
like the father of a prodigal son.
For once again, spring has sprung,
And the tear drops from heaven bring back sweat memories.
Words, cannot express, the joy,
That I feel, when I see, raindrops, on my windowpane.
April showers have come once again,
To wash away, my pain and sorrows.

"Miss Pretty Eyes," "Ode to La Bella" and "April Showers," by Chukwuma Ndukwe were first published in his 2012 chapbook, After Shave.
© 2012 Chukwuma Ndukwe, All Rights Reserved.

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Kerline Devise, "Ma nudité"

Kerline Devise

Kerline Devise

Ma nudité

Ma nudité
On me dit qu'on la voit parfois assise
Au pied d'un arbre fredonnant un air étrange
On me dit qu'on la voit parfois assise
Au pied d'un arbre portant une grande fissure
D'où coule un marécage de serpents et de cris
Elle ne reconnaît plus les maisons et les villes
Ne se souvient ni de noms ni d'adresses
Elle coule
Elle s'en va sans retour vers cette porte toujours ouverte
Cette porte qui, elle aussi, ne fait que couler
Elle coule
Elle s'en va sans retour vers ces fleurs cueillies pour toi
Ces fleurs poussées sur ma langue
Ma nudité
Mes yeux
On me dit qu'on les voit éternellement
Sur la route qui mène à ton amour

« Ma nudité » par Kerline Devise a été publié pour la première fois dans Anthologie de la poésie haïtienne (Cahier Haiti). Mazères: Le Chasseur abstrait, 2009, page 375, et reproduit dans Terres de femmes, 150 ans de poésie féminine en Haïti. Paris: Bruno Doucey, 2010, page 256.
© 2009 Kerline Devise, tous droits réservés

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Anderson Dovilas


Si la nuit vous arrive
Comme un poème étouffé de rhum
Et que l'horizon devient fragile
À l'image d'un paradoxe de la forme
N'oubliez surtout pas que la plume
Sert à balancer l'équation du sang
Et si la pluie jumelait les larmes
Pour une terre de semence inépuisable
Avec la faim, la soif
Préoccupation d'une péripétie romanesque
On saurait écrire demain en pied de page
Comme une couronne de fleur sur les paragraphes
Je vous écris depuis un séisme polyglotte
L'avalanche des consonnes rouillées
Dans la gesticulation du temps
Il est sans doute un mauvais métier
L'amour des césures
Quand les regards autocollants
D'une issue de vertige
Plane au-dessus des phrases
Un moment à sécher
Et si par l'audace de l'esthétique
Les jours vous arrivent
De printemps chauves
Faites-vous une note de chanson
À mettre au nid
Pour vous grossir la mémoire

Pwezi pèfòmans

Nou te kwaze rivyè fwad
Anba yo jenn ti mwa desanm
Mwen sonje sa kou Jodi a
Souri w pat sanble pèsòn
Yon papiyon te vin poze sou nou
Tankou yon kòd gita
Ki t'ap fè serenerad pou mwa me
Nou t'ap gade san espas
Tankou yon kouwòn zetwal
Nan bèl moman
Nou t'ap lote lòlòj
Yon lòt langaj
Pou n' ekri lavi
Yon jou cheri
Na dekoud bon nouvèl
Si nou pap jwe ladann
Na monte sou do lannuit
Lè lajounen pa la
Na mete bag nan souf
Vwal nan silans
Lè jou sa a va rive
Wa chita nan lesprim pil ou fas
Na pote swaf yon reveyon
K'ap kabicha nan nòs
Cheri pouki lè mari w pa la
Nuit ou chifonen
Mwen menm avè w pat pou legliz
Nou konfese pou n' renouvle
Jalouzi kache se bouch kavo
Madan marye
Lanmou pagen remiz
Si w konn tande radyo
Madan marye sa a gon emisyon
Nan pwent tetel'
Pòs radyo a nan menm
Lè map fiksel'
M' branchel' sou bouch mwen
San repòtaj
Pou zanmim kap koutem'
Nan powèm sa a
Pa mandem ki frekans
Mwen se sèl oditè

M'ap gadel san koridò
Lari a pran tout yon chapit
Pou l' aplodil
Madan marye m' se yon ti boubout
Wa banm woulib jan w pi pito
Sam pral di la a pa yon repwòch
Mwen konn bal pijon
Pou l' byen soupe


Anderson Dovilas, Pwezi pèfòmans
     start - Assonance
     03:50 - Pwezi pèfòmans

Anderson Dovilas

Le poème « Assonance » par Anderson Dovilas a été publie pour la première fois dans Mon pays, rien de luxe aux Éditions Trouvailles à Bridgeport (Connecticut) en 2012. « Pwezi pèfòmans » est inédit, publié pour la première fois sur Île en île. © 2012-2013 Anderson Dovilas. tous droits réservés

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Vladimir Cybil Charlier reads selections from "Tourist Art"


Vladimir Cybil Charlier



Selections from Tourist Art. Text by Gabrielle Civil, illustrations by Vladimir Cybil Charlier, published in 2012 © Gabrielle Civil and Vladimir Cybil Charlier. All Rights Reserved.

Vladimir Cybil Charlier

Tourist Art

Text by Gabrielle Civil, illustrations by Vladimir Cybil Charlier.


in the market,
florescence of art:
dead wood sculptures
with death grip smiles,
big-dicked warriors
with casket-like shields,
flip-flops melting
in the sun
and these
landscapes of higglers,
angular gourd men.

in the market,
in santo domingo

the two sides of the island war

here the spirits are questionable.
not roads and lights and toilets and power,
these stand unquestioned. faux taino glyphs
move in color from sun to sand, scrawl to personage /
flower / smiles. the texture of the canvases is clotted and rough.
it would be reclamation if it were ever enough.
tourist art as native camouflage, a cheerful death.


in Sto. Dgo
the tourist kills two birds with one stone:
gets taino dominicans and nigger haitians at once,
gets white sand and black magic,
an all-inclusive resort.

a tour de force

tourist art is anachronistic. tourist art is historical. tourist art is nostalgic.
tourist art is timeless. tourist art is mnemonic. tourist art is native xerox.
tourist art is anachronistic. tourist art is historical. tourist art is nostalgic.
tourist art is timeless. tourist art is mnemonic. tourist art is native xerox.
tourist art is anachronistic. tourist art is historical. tourist art is nostalgic.
tourist art is timeless. tourist art is mnemonic. tourist art is native xerox.
tourist art is anachronistic. tourist art is historical. tourist art is nostalgic.
tourist art is timeless. tourist art is mnemonic. tourist art is native xerox.
tourist art is anachronistic. tourist art is historical. tourist art is nostalgic.
tourist art is timeless. tourist art is mnemonic. tourist art is native xerox.
tourist art is anachronistic. tourist art is historical. tourist art is nostalgic.
tourist art is timeless. tourist art is mnemonic. tourist art is native xerox.
tourist art is anachronistic. tourist art is historical. tourist art is nostalgic.
tourist art is timeless. tourist art is mnemonic. tourist art is native xerox.
tourist art is ad infinitum repetition past present and future. amen.

tourist art is always selling timelessness.
the story the tourist wants to tell of the travel
not the stinging cloudburst but the cobalt sea.
not the stench but the deep burnished kiss of the sun,
not the hawkers, but the barefoot
children dancing for coins. at once, the place
disseminates itself as a story you want to tell, your story
displaced, a beautiful lie, evacuated, remote
from customs threat. no clairin no flies
no beggars no misery no bones

in santo domingo
the haitian works win the war. not just
because i am mad at the roads and the lights
and the toilets and the power. but everywhere
looks reveal this: my haitian eyes undisguised,
imagination unrealized, dyaspora identity
in crates, unstoppable reproduction.
tourist art as freight.

bleuhaut de page

Denizé Lauture

Mother, I Remember

Mother, I remember
When you were sewing my clothes
With your one-thread-sewing-machine.
I remember when you were patching them
With your expert fingers.
I remember when you were washing them,
Ironing them carefully.
I remember when you were getting up
At four o'clock every morning
To prepare my lunches for school.
Often I made you angry then fled.
I remember you running after me
And I would be forgiven
Only if I were back with firewood
For the kitchen
Or a bundle of good grass
For the pigs.

Oh, maternal remembrances !
Pure, charmful remembrances !
Of the only one who cares
With her entire heart.
Of the only one who loves
With no hidden motive
In the back of her head.
Mother, I remember you much !

Oh, there were such strange feelings !
I remember me waving good-bye to you,
And telling you
That I was going to a country
Kote nèg gen lavi.
I remember the tears in your eyes.
I remember your face twisted
By misery and sadness,
Your loving voice instructing me
On how to behave in a country
Whose name you even ignored.
I left. You let me go.
Mother, my departure to a rich land
Did not make you happy.
Your maternal feelings
Knew very well
The your son, the first born
Of your thirteen children (five are dead)
Was heading to the unknown.



The Poem

The poem was on a table
A poem in black ink
On green paper
I was humming and old tune
A tune my old folks used to hum
The poem turned into a body
A wondrous body full of life
And the tune I was humming
Became a veil
A golden veil covering
The living poem
Two patriarchs arrived
Each one with a stethoscope
One auscultated my heart
The other the poem's heart
The poem's heart and my heart
Had the same rhythm


Denizé Lauture reads selections from The Cactus Legend
     start - Mother, I Remember
     03:23 - from "Song of Two Lands"
     05:56 - A Unifying Light ; 06:43 - Limyè Egalego a
     07:28 - The Poem
     08:50 - I Snatch the Zombi of a Great Poem ; 10:34 - Volè zonbi bèl powèm
     11:45 - Nèg ak fanm powèt nou ; 13:27 - The Haitian Poet

Denizé Lauture

from "Song of Two Lands"

Then, Africa, oh motherland !
Into your mysterious forests,
On the burning sands of your deserts.
Life was never a dark night !

Oh your moonlit nights !
The tam-tam thundered !
The bodies and hearts
Of your daughters and sons bounced
And bounced around the bearded elders.
The ebony breasts were milked tenderly
By black lovers !

They stepped upon your virgin face.
They grew their exterminating weeds.
The long nightmare !
The odious trade !
Your children hunted, chained, dragged !
The dreaded ships !
The hungry ocean's waves !

Eyes are still wet, still with tears bouncing down.
Still afraid of those nights with no moon,
Of those nights with no moon at all,
Nights when men were cattle.

Upon the dreaded ships drifting on the stormy ocean,
Your children went from their continent
To other continents.
They went to unknown shores, unknown climates
To that island whose extinguished folks called AYITI.

A Unifying Light

I am neither god
Nor angel
Neither human
Nor animal
Neither man
Nor woman
Neither adult
Nor child
Neither oak-tree
Nor firestone
I am a simple entity
Chasing a unifying light
Deep in the belly
Of mother universe

Limyè Egalego a

Mwen pa Papabondye
Ni zany
Mwan pa moun
Ni bèt
Mwen pa gason
Ni fanm
Mwen pa granmoun
Ni timoun
Mwen pa bwadchenn
Ni wòchapyè
Mwen se yon ti sonbi toupiti
Kap kouri dèyè
Yon ti limyè egalego
Nan mitan vant
Manman linivè

I Snatch the Zombi of a Great Poem

I'm buried
Standing up
In a cemetery
Of folks with beautiful souls.

The zombie of a great poem
Which lost its way
Wanders in the cemetery
Like a spellbound butterfly.

It goes from
Skull to skull
Till it enters

I snatch the zombie of the poem
And close it in my heart's holy vessel
That's why my soul's
Forever strolling
In the most beautiful garden of poetry.

Volè zonbi bèl powèm

Yo antere m
Drèt doubout
Nan youn simityè
Nèg bèl lespri.

Zonbi youn bèl powèm
Ki pèdi plas li
Ap pronmennen nan simityè a
Tankou oun papiyon madichon.

Li sòti nan tèt mò
Li antre nan youn lòt tèt mò
Jis li vin antre
Nan tèt pa mwen.

Mwen pran zonbi powèm nan
Mwen femen l nan govi kè mwen.
Se sa k fè toutan
Nanm mwen ap pronmennen
Nan pi bèl jaden powezi.


Nèg ak fanm powèt nou

Yon powèt
Se yon manbo
Se yon oungan
Ki fè pawòl
Bay son lanbi
Ki fè pawòl
Bay son lanbi
Ki fè pawòl
Bay son vaksin
Ki fè pawòl
Bay bèl kout tanbou –

Se yon boko ki fèmen
Tout pi bèl son lèt alfabè
Anndan ason li
Yon bòkò ki konn jwe
Jon bèl pawòl
Ki konn boula
Sou tèt lang manman li
Jous li fè tout ounsi
Tout nanm tonbe LWA –

Yon powèt
Se yon Mèt Minwi Limyè
Ki trase VÈVÈ li
Nan mitan kafou konesans
Ak pousyè kò
Tout lòt bon powèt ki mouri.

The Haitian Poet

Our poet is
A vodou priest or priestess
Who makes words
Sound like conch-shells
Makes words
Sound like bamboo trumpets
And turns words
Into beautiful Rada drumbeats –

Our poet is a wizard
Who juggles
Wondrous literary sounds
Inside a magic jar
A wizard who knows how to twirl
The most beautiful words
Knows how to jam
The small drum of heavenly sounds
And how to sing the blues
On the tip of his mother tongue
Until all priestesses, all angels
And all souls become LOA-possessed –

Our men and women poets
Are shining masters of midnight
Who draw magic symbols
At the crossroads of knowledge
With the sacred dust
Of all past master poets !

Denizé Lauture

I am a poem
Write me
And I will be
Your poem

I am a song
Sing me
And I will be
Your song

These poems by Denizé Lauture are part of his series, The Cactus Legend. "Song of Two Lands" was first published in The Black Warrior, and Other Poems. New York: SubPress, 2006. The other poems are published for the first time with Île en île with the author's permission. © 2013 Denizé Lauture, tous droits réservés

bleu haut de page

For a presentation and summary of the event, see the three-minute video prepared by the Lehman College Media Relations office.

This event was sponsored, at Lehman College, by the campus Division of Arts & Humanities, the Women's Studies Program, and the Kreyòl Students Association (KSA). Additional support was provided by Haiti Cultural Exchange of New York.

hosts drummers: Anderson Dovilas and Annette Lipson


hosts espace

Poetry Slam Celebrating Haitian Women
Bronx, New York (2011). Île en île.
77-minute video of event, and eight videos of individual performers: Melissa Beauvery, Jeanie Bogart, Jennifer Celestin, Vladimir Cybil Charlier, Kerline Devise, Anderson Dovilas, Denizé Lauture and Chukwuma Ndukwe.
Posted on YouTube : 3 May 2013.
Cameras : Yves Dossous & Lou Gonzalez

© 2013 Île en île for the videos
© individual authors, for their texts
tous droits réservés | all rights reserved

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hosts: Jean-Dany Joachim, Thomas C. Spear, Francesca André


liens externes:


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mise en ligne : 3 mai 2013