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PEN Haiti to Host International Free the Word! Festival, April 20th-22nd
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In 2009, PEN American Center partnered with FIAC during the PEN World Voices Festival. The event featured saxophonist Buyu Ambroise, vocalist Martina Bruno, Michèle Voltaire Marcelin, and Etienne Télémaque as Master of Ceremonies. Here is the copy from the event:

No literary series on Haiti would be complete without a celebration of Haiti’s vivid oral culture. Participants will engage in a session of Krik? Krak!—a Haitian storytellers’ ritual of warming up their audiences by asking “Krik?” and taking the collective response “Krak!” as their cue to begin to tell stories and jokes. Join these renowned writers for this very special happening where stories yet to be defined will take shape.

Michèle Voltaire Marcelin & Martina Bruno (by PEN American Center)

In 2009, PEN American Center partnered with FIAC during the PEN World Voices Festival. The event featured saxophonist Buyu Ambroise, vocalist Martina BrunoMichèle Voltaire Marcelin, and Etienne Télémaque as Master of Ceremonies. Here is the copy from the event:

No literary series on Haiti would be complete without a celebration of Haiti’s vivid oral culture. Participants will engage in a session of Krik? Krak!—a Haitian storytellers’ ritual of warming up their audiences by asking “Krik?” and taking the collective response “Krak!” as their cue to begin to tell stories and jokes. Join these renowned writers for this very special happening where stories yet to be defined will take shape.

Michèle Voltaire Marcelin & Martina Bruno (by PEN American Center)

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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 American Center - April 13, 2012: PEN Haiti to Host Its First International Free the Word! Festival
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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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By Deji OlukotunAnother view of the attentive audience at the Liberez la Parole festival at the Biblioteque of Gonaives, Haiti. The audience asked a number of difficult questions of the participants ranging from overreach by the Martelly government to the formation of a new Haitian army. We also discussed the role of PEN American Center in holding the U.S. government accountable and the role of PEN International in promoting free expression, among other issues.
There is little doubt that Haitians eagerly participate in questions regarding literature and government—in 90 degree heat and humidity—as we had to close the session early to run to the Alliance Francaise across town for the final panel of the evening. The event caps off a long day of a beautiful drive through the rice paddies of the Artibonite valley to Gonaives, a town known for its history of defiance. The Haitian revolution, I´m told, began here, the first Constitution was signed here, and Gonaives formed the heart of the popular protests that ousted Baby Doc in 1986.

By Deji Olukotun

Another view of the attentive audience at the Liberez la Parole festival at the Biblioteque of Gonaives, Haiti. The audience asked a number of difficult questions of the participants ranging from overreach by the Martelly government to the formation of a new Haitian army. We also discussed the role of PEN American Center in holding the U.S. government accountable and the role of PEN International in promoting free expression, among other issues.

There is little doubt that Haitians eagerly participate in questions regarding literature and government—in 90 degree heat and humidity—as we had to close the session early to run to the Alliance Francaise across town for the final panel of the evening. The event caps off a long day of a beautiful drive through the rice paddies of the Artibonite valley to Gonaives, a town known for its history of defiance. The Haitian revolution, I´m told, began here, the first Constitution was signed here, and Gonaives formed the heart of the popular protests that ousted Baby Doc in 1986.