On behalf of the Consulate General of the Republic of Haiti in Miami, Consul Guy François Jr. wrote me a letter to let me know that I have been chosen as one of the Honorees for this year’s “Beacon of Hope and Achievement Award.”
I will be recognized on Wednesday March 25th, at the 2015 International Women’s Month Ceremony, in Little Haiti.
The following is the biography that guided the selection process. It shows (in Mr. François’s words) my “contribution to Cultural Excellence in the Haitian Diaspora.”
Born in Port-au-Prince, Jessica (M.J.) Fievre self-published her first mystery novel, Le Feu de la Vengeance, at the age of sixteen. She was nineteen years old when she signed her first book contract with Hachette-Deschamps, in Haiti, for the publication of a Young Adult book titled La Statuette Maléfique. As of today, Jessica has authored nine books in French. Two years ago, One Moore Book released Jessica’s first children’s book, I Am Riding, written in three languages: English, French, and Haitian Creole. In November of this year, her memoir in English, A Sky the Color of Chaos, will be released by Beating Windward Press at the Miami Book Fair International.
In addition to book-length texts, Jessica also writes short stories, essays, and poems. She’s included in Une journée haïtienne, edited by Thomas C. Spear. Her short stories and poems in English have appeared in various anthologies and magazines, including 15 Views of Miami (Burrow Press, 2014), The Beautiful Anthology (TNB Books, 2012), Haiti Noir (Akashic Books, 2011), The Mom Egg, The Southeast Review, Saw Palm, The Caribbean Writer, and Daily Bites of Flesh: 365 Days of Flash Fiction. She’s a regular contributor to the online journal The Nervous Breakdown. Two of her stories in Spanish are forthcoming in a Bolivian mystery anthology. She was featured last year on Buzzfeed and was a writer-in-residence at the Betsy Hotel. Her story, “Sinkhole,” which appeared in 15 Views of Miami, was nominated by the Pushcart Board of Contributing Editors for the Pushcart Prize.
Jessica is also an editor. In 2010, she founded Sliver of Stone Magazine, a well-loved, bi-annual, online literary magazine dedicated to the publication of work from both emerging and established poets, writers, and visual artists from all parts of the globe. In 2012, she edited So Spoke the Earth, a multilingual anthology about Haiti, which explores the country’s past, present and future as experienced by 54 contributors, for an eclectic, international combination of established and emerging writers. This important anthology about Haiti is a celebration of Haitian spirit, multiculturalism and diversity.
In 2013, with Nicholas Garnett and Corey Ginsberg, Jessica edited All That Glitters, a Sliver of Stone Magazine nonfiction anthology. As a board member of the publishing house, Lominy Books, she organizes a yearly writing contest in French, encouraging aspiring writers in Haiti to pursue their dream. In fact, she often returns to Haiti to conduct writing workshops for middle and high school students. She’s regularly featured at both Livres en Folie (LEF) and Foire Internationale du Livre d’Haiti (FILHA) , two annual book fairs in Haiti. In 2014, she served as judge for a contest organized by the Bureau du Secrétaire d’Etat à l’Intégration des Personnes Handicapées (BSEIPH) and also presented her books at Femmes en Création, in Bourdon.
Jessica moved to the United States in 2002. She obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from Barry University and an MFA from the Creative Writing program at Florida International University. She taught writing for 8 years at Nova Middle School in Davie, and later became a writing professor at Broward College and Miami Dade College. She’s been a key note speaker at Tufts University, in Massachusetts, at the Mom Egg Reading, in New York, at the Haitian Book Fair in Washington, D.C., at AWP, in Washington, and at Michael College, in Vermont. Last year, she spent a semester in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, in Bolivia, where she taught writing at the International University. While in South America, she was invited to conduct a seminar at the Alliance Française on the Myths and Legends of the French Antilles, and all her novels in French are available at the Alliance Française de Santa Cruz.
Jessica has always been active within the South Florida community. A few years ago, with artist Jean-Michel Daudier, she organized several editions of Haiti Out Loud, a night of poetry and music in Pembroke Pines. She’s taught ekphrastic poetry and haiku workshops at the Miami Art Museum, and in various schools, including iTech @ Thomas A. Edison Educational Center, in Miami, and Tedder Elementary, in Pompano Beach. She’s an ambassador for Lip Service, a John S. and James L. Knight Foundation award-winning organization and a Miami institution. She’s also a proud member of the Miami Poetry Collective, famous for its Poem Depot, a regular feature of Wynwood’s Second Saturday Art Walk.
She’s participated to the Miami Book Fair International on several occasions. She’s also presented her books at Haiti en Livres, the Anancy Festival, and the South Florida Book Festival, and at various literary events at Miami City Hall, Miami Dade College, Broward College (“Caribbean Week” and “Literary Feast”), and the University of Miami. She was a speaker at different events organized by the Consulate General of Haiti for “Mois de la Francophonie.” She’s served twice as a judge for the “Dis Moi Dix Mots” Contest launched by the Cultural Departments of the Consulate General of France and the Consulate General of Haiti, in Miami, for students in the “French Heritage Language Program” and those attending partner universities in Miami. As an alumna of the Miami chapter of VONA (Voices of Our Nations), a workshop for writers-of-color, Jessica contributed to the anthology Dismantle, published by Thread Made Blanket. Her blog, The Whimsical Project, gets about 150 hits every day.
Jessica continues to serve the community by working as a certified Haitian Creole court interpreter for the 11th Judicial Circuit. She has not retired as a teacher, however: She’s a facilitator for Exchange for Change, teaching creative writing at a women correctional facility. She’s an educator who wrote several educational scripts for the University of Miami, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health. The scripts, turned into short films, were written in both English and Haitian Creole and aim at educating the Little Haiti community about diabetes, cervical cancer, and the HPV vaccine. Jessica was interviewed by the University of Miami for the Haitian Diaspora Oral History Collection, which includes videos and selected transcripts of oral history interviews conducted with individuals of Haitian ancestry that are well-renowned in the world of the arts. She’s also included in Florida’s International University’s Digital Library of the Caribbean.