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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Haitian Poet Félix Morisseau-Leroy and Grandson

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Editor's Note: This post about Félix Morisseau-Leroy appeared on Cappuccino Soul last Spring, but now is a good time to take another look at this Haitian writer who had great rhythm and spirit. To my surprise, the piece attracted the attention of Leroy's grandson, Albert Morrisseau-Leroy, who I've been in contact with via e-mails since last summer, occasionally. With this post I'm able to include an added treat -- a poem, written in French, by Albert.

One of my Haitian students W is very bright and scored 100 on one of the comprehension tests that we gave her, but she has been very timid about speaking in English. I thought maybe the poetic language of one of her homegrown poets would help to loosen her up a bit. W read the poem below by Haitian poet, Félix Morisseau-Leroy beautifully! Morrisseau-Leroy is credited with getting Creole recognized as one of Haiti's official languages.

I'm Taking a Little Trip to the Moon
by Félix Morisseau-Leroy

(Translated from Haitian Creole by Jack Hirschman and Boadiba)

I'm taking a little trip to the moon
I've had it with life down here
Around here everything's sure hard
I'm on my way to the moon
They tell me up there there's no such thing
As good and bad people
There's no stupid guys or wise guys
No city or mountain people
All people are people on the moon
All people speak one language
I can't hack it on earth anymore
Civilization's exhausting me
Civilization's scaring me
Wherever I turn I see
People killing people
Civilization was finished a long time age
People there have forgotten that awful time
I'm taking a little trip to the moon
They tell me there's no king there
No county sheriff
No justice of the peace
No bailiff
No monseignor
I just gotta make that voyage to the moon
They tell me it's beautiful there, just beautiful
Nights are clearer than daytime
There's no time for a guy to sleep
No days for work or for play
Nights you watch the earth aglow
Brighter than the sun
And stars as close as fireflies on trees
There's no heat
No cold
No misery
No mud
Everyone's forgotten about war
Forgotten about civilization
The way the old forget colic
Measles and teething
I'm gonna live on the moon
Evenings I'll tell the kids stories
I'll tell them that the whole time the earth turns
There's a huge woman
An immense female werewolf
They call civilization
Crushing young men like ants.

From Wikipedia:

Félix Morisseau-Leroy (also known as Feliks Moriso-Lewa) was born on March 13, 1912. He was a Haitian writer who wrote poetry and plays in Haitian Créole, the first significant writer to do so. By 1961 he succeeded in having Créole recognized as an official language of Haiti, after expanding its teaching in schools and use in creative literature. Morisseau also published works about Haitian Créole and Haitian French literature. He worked internationally, encouraging the development of national literature in post-colonial Ghana and Senegal. In 1981 he settled in Miami, Florida, where he was influential in uniting the Haitian community around Créole and encouraged its study in academia. He died on September 5, 1998.

mon Noir et mon Blanc
by Albert Morisseau-Leroy

Ma peau a la noirceur de mon blanc
mon cœur a la blancheur de mon noir
mon esprit s'élèvera toujours plus haut la haut ou tout est blanc
mon mental c'est mon noir qui l'a forgé dans du métal
elles adorent la douceur que m'offre mon blanc
mais la virilité de mon noir ne manque pas pour autant
mon corps a forcement des atouts de noir
pour mon blanc cela reste difficile a croire
mes anges gauche ne sont pas toujours d'accord avec ceux de droite
c'est mon noir et mon blanc qui se batte.
Sur le piano de ma vie
ma noir toujours a la bourre joue les notes rapide
ma blanche joue des accords pour rattraper et prendre de l'avance sur le temps
dans mes partitions de blues toujours plus de noirs que de blanc
je verrais toujours la vie en noir sur blanc
je ferais toujours mes rêves en blanc sur noir
hiver comme été toujours plus bronzé que mes blancs et plus clair que mes noirs
mon yin sans cesse a la recherche de mon yang
de jour comme de nuits brille ma peau miel caramel
je suis un arc en ciel culturel
quelque soit la couleur de l'ex ou de l'intérieur
je suis un équilibre de tes peurs.

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