Haiti: A Feast of Women’s Voices

Despite the many limitations and expectations placed on women by Haitian society, women writers are finding their voices, inspiring others, and changing the way the world thinks about the motherland. Through poetry and prose, these authors have broken free of cultural limitations and the (un)conscious biases that sometimes keep women from the transgressive act of writing honestly about their lived and inherited experiences. They explore various post-colonial themes, with topics ranging from family turmoil and personal struggles, to political and social warfare. Do you like The Whimsical Project? Support us! Danielle Legros-Georges, poet Women Writers of Haitian Descent Across the Web From familiar publications like the New Yorker to lesser-known online outlets like My Brown…

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Whimsicalit: An Unfolding Magazine

Unfolding, because we highlight one writer at a time. Consider this a conduit for disruption, a space for discussion, reflection. We seek quality writing (and art) filled with surprise, mystery, and structural and emotional complexity. Our mission is to publish new talent, and to highlight established writers from the unique regions of South Florida, the Caribbean, and from the nebulous zone of the Caribbean diaspora. Whimsical? Yes. We’re eclectic too. In addition to the standard genre content you find in other literary journals, such as poems, interviews, short stories, personal essays, articles or one-act plays, occasionally, we feature profiles of interesting earthlings, because if we think someone is great, we…
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John Grey: Haitian Cockfight, 1953

Down from the mountains men come, each with a rooster tucked under the arm, fighting cocks, some small and feisty, some huge enough to knock out with one blow. Their women follow, huge breasted many of them, like there’s hens shoved down their cotton dresses, garland for strutting champions, for he who wears the champion’s comb. These men seldom fight each other. They let the birds be their anger, their suspicions, their way in the world. And women don’t love much. They reward. Everyone in the village and beyond comes to the bedlam. They crowd around a ring of dust while fowl peck and scratch for blood. The…

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Lilian Cotton: A Slow Battle

The artist in her own words: I was born in Lithia Springs, a suburb of Atlanta, GA and spent most of my childhood in various cities in the north and southeast.  I attended a magnet art school for visual and performing arts; concentrating in painting and drawing.  During high school I attended the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities.   In 2008 I received a B.F.A in Painting and Drawing from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA.  In that same year I received the Rohm and Haas Fine Arts Achievement Award. Since graduating from college my work has been shown at various venues and…

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Hunger, by Natasha Labaze

Every day, every hour, every minute, every second The stomachs growled with hunger… The stomachs moaned in yearning… The stomachs growled with anger… The anger Frustration The hunger Rumbled beneath the earth Earthquake Earth sake Forsake For God’s sake… The Hungry stomachs rumbled, So loud Not to destroy But to be heard To find solace They heaved a sigh A sigh released with a wave of destruction Since the distended bellies And dusty bare feet vanished in the dust exhaled by the proud SUVs The earth rumbled from below A fault line Line between the have and have-nothing A fault line Cracked The World crumbled The walls crumbled…

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Learning Creole, by Juderns Exceus

My grandmother taught me Kreyòl. You must know where you come from, so you understand where you’re going, she said. Kreyòl: an open door to the culture of my ancestors. Once a year, my grandmother arrived to the US with two overweight suitcases stuffed with presents; the packages were first enfolded in newspaper, then in colorful Christmas or birthday gift wraps, our names written on a piece of masking tape. Fresh kasav and Haitian peanut butter for my father, sweet Haitian honey and chanm chanm for me, lwil maskriti for my mother—the list goes on. Grandma sat on the bed, my mother and my aunt [name] at her…

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Yolaine M. St Fort: Flight

she fled from mahogany-hued skin dark velvet in winter and through spring summer skin, coated like black beans. she cried under her bed comforted by the cold of the linoleum the children on People Street said you can’t see coal in the dark. autumn skin, like eggplants they say the midwife dyed her skin purple black.  oh what a curse! her sun-shined fairy begged her to bathe mahogany-black-bean-eggplant-shaded skin in a beautifying balm, sacred like holy water sacred like white skin. She was fleeing from skin sprinkled with black spices from Haiti’s womb “she’s like the bottom of a frying pan visible in a blackout if she smiles.”…

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Maryse Noël Roumain: Remembering Kate

Some twenty years since my mother left Brooklyn and moved to Queens, but I never met Kate in the building. And yet, she had been living there with her mother for many years prior to renting her own studio at wealthier Jamaica Estates. I met Kate’s mother first—we shared an interest in Haiti’s political drama—and later she introduced me to her daughter. We became instant friends, Kate and I, sharing the love for good food, exotic music and endless conversations. She took me to restaurants and movie theaters, and I took her to jazz concerts at the College nearby. Listening to Michael Bubblé on the car radio, we…

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Tile, by Enma Leyva

And they came to our rescue— they came, the World: too late. My grandmother sat amongst the ruins, holding that small, salvaged piece of tile from her house— the one and only house tile. Hundreds of tiles broken as the Americans came, only to see a broken country not my grandmother’s broken dreams. This was to be my house, my home. Now these walls: Wilma’s rubble. The Americans never saw my grandmother’s tears: they were too busy weighing our worth. They never saw her broken dreams: all they saw were hundreds of tiny tile pieces. *** Born in Cuba, Enma Leyva grew up in South Florida. She teaches English in the…

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Radio talk, Ms. May, and Hiatus

On The Whimsical Project, May was all about art, literature, and Haiti. I hope that you enjoyed the stories and poems by Katia D. Ulysse, Tammy L. Tillotson, Patricia Biela, and France-Luce Benson, and that you were also delighted by the art of Pascale Doxy. Ms.May, where have you gone? I was going to say, “Stay tuned in June!” but turns out I’m going on a hiatus. I want to focus on my new novel this summer. I’m off Facebook and off TWP. I’m not even answering emails. Completely off the grid! I’ll be on the radio tomorrow, though. If you happen to speak Haitian Creole, talk-show host Eustache Fleurant…

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France-Luce Benson: Risen from the Dough

WGA Reg. # 1496852 In Risen From the Dough, two Haitian-American women in a bakery kitchen prepare for the impending arrival of the health inspector while they grapple with grief, identity, and the complicated realities of immigrant life. See it live in Miami, as part of Summer Shorts! Thursday, June 4 – Sunday, June 28 at the Arsht Center. CHARACTERS: Maryse–40; strong willed, Haitian-American woman Leonide–her sister; a few years younger SETTING: Brooklyn, New York A small bakery on Flatbush Avenue Time is present *** AT RISE: MARYSE violently kneads dough on a counter with her bare hands. MARYSE Fout! LEONIDE, her sister, enters with a rolling pin. MARYSE…

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Patricia Biela: Mamie’s Hands

Grand-mère, je vois tes mains. Your hands coddle infants nourish your children. Mamie, je vois tes mains. Your hands interlock God. Rosary beads hang. Grand-mère, je vois tes mains. Your hands plant mango and bananane. Mamie, je vois tes mains. Your hands teach poise, strength. My hands wait for yours.   Virginia, April 25, 2011 *   *   * Patricia Biela is a native of Maryland and is a graduate of the University of Virginia with a BA in Psychology. A first generation American, she is of Angolan paternal and Haitian maternal descent. Biela is a Cave Canem South Fellow and has participated in 16 writing workshops including Callaloo, Cave…

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Tammy L. Tillotson: The Picture of Haiti

In the background, a girl wears a sunny yellow t-shirt with a sailboat inside a heart. I want to ask if she got the shirt at one of Virginia’s Annual Lake Festivals. Does she remember— The colorful tents up and down Main Street? The wonderful aromas of plentiful food? The frozen drinks in souvenir coconuts? Did she watch the fireworks on a boat? Was she one of thousands on the bridge? Did she get to ride in a hot air balloon? Those events were all for the public, but this photo is of three Privates. Each sitting in a folding lawn chair, like the kind we used to…

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Pascale Doxy: Art as Therapy

Pascale Doxy is a native of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Her passion for drawing started when she was a toddler.  She was introduced to water color at the age of twelve. At seventeen, dissatisfied with the light tones of water color, Doxy changed her preferred medium to acrylic. When Doxy turned nineteen, her parents signed her up for her first art class.  The location: the famous Centre D’art in Port-au-Prince.  For a year she learned the basics of drawing. During the first six months the very well-known Frank Louissaint was her mentor. Later on, Doxy went off on her own. In Port-au-Prince, at the age of twenty, she did her…

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