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PEN Haiti to Host International Free the Word! Festival, April 20th-22nd
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PEN is honored to have two-time National Poetry Slam Champion Roger Bonair-Agard join us for the Free the Word! Festival (April 20-22) in Port-au-Prince, Haiti!
A native of Trinidad and Tobago, Bonair-Agard immigrated to the United States in 1987 and has since appeared three times on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam and worked extensively with youth around the country through poetry organizations such as Urban Word (NYC) and Volume (Ann Arbor). He is the co-founder and artistic director of the LouderARTS Project in New York, and his latest book of poems, GULLY, was published in 2010.
(Photograph by Jill Steinberg)

PEN is honored to have two-time National Poetry Slam Champion Roger Bonair-Agard join us for the Free the Word! Festival (April 20-22) in Port-au-Prince, Haiti!

A native of Trinidad and Tobago, Bonair-Agard immigrated to the United States in 1987 and has since appeared three times on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam and worked extensively with youth around the country through poetry organizations such as Urban Word (NYC) and Volume (Ann Arbor). He is the co-founder and artistic director of the LouderARTS Project in New York, and his latest book of poems, GULLY, was published in 2010.

(Photograph by Jill Steinberg)

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PEN Haiti’s announcement of the Liberez la parole! (Free the Word!) festival. The festival will take place in Port-au-Prince and Gonaives on Friday, April 19 through Sunday, April 21.

PEN International and PEN American Center are sponsors of the event, along with several local groups. For more information, visit PEN International’s announcement or check in to PENlive! for updates.

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Evelyne Trouillot speaks with Gaspard Dorélien at the Institut Francais in Port-au-Prince on the panel: Paroles de femmes, paroles libres (Women narratives, free narratives). The panel discussed gender bias in conceptions of women’s literature in Haiti and voiced concerns about fewer opportunities for women writers, while celebrating the rich legacy of writers today. 

Evelyne Trouillot speaks with Gaspard Dorélien at the Institut Francais in Port-au-Prince on the panel: Paroles de femmes, paroles libres (Women narratives, free narratives). The panel discussed gender bias in conceptions of women’s literature in Haiti and voiced concerns about fewer opportunities for women writers, while celebrating the rich legacy of writers today. 

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By Deji Olukotun

The first day of the Liberez la parole (Free the Word) festival in Haiti kicked off with aplomb. Housed in the bucolic Institut Francais in Port-au-Prince, a star-studded panel of authors and journalists probed the limits of free expression. The speakers discussed the importance of objectivity and truth in journalism, while reserving a broader space for fictional stories. At the same time, they noted under-reporting on issues affecting vast swathes of the population in impoverished neighborhoods such as Cite de Soleil. The speakers also examined the new spaces for dialogue that emerged after the fall of the Duvalier regime, while observing ongoing challenges in reporting on the government during the post-quake recovery period.

The panel was followed by an equally lively discussion of women and free expression featuring Evelyn Trouillot and Emmelie Prophete. The two writers questioned assumptions about “chick lit” and called for greater support of girls and women writers, who are facing barriers to entry, caused in part by poverty but also gender bias.

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