Illustration by Eloise Owens
Edwidge Danticat was born in Haiti and graduated from Barnard in 1990. The success of her early semi-autobiographical novels and short stories has made her one of the most prominent writers to come out of Morningside Heights and an important figure in the Caribbean Diaspora. Although Danticat has been busy on tour for her new collection of essays, Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work, she found a moment to speak with the Blue & White‘s Managing Editor Emerita Mariela Quintana about her work, her community, and her home.
FYI: Danticat will be speaking at the Brooklyn Public Library this Thursday night at 7pm! It’s free!
Blue & White: What is the art scene like in Haiti now? How has it changed since the January Earthquake?
Edwidge Danticat: After the earthquake there was a momentary pause because a lot people lost their family members and they had to worry about the business of survival. But soon some of the writers were blogging about the earthquake and about what happened to them. And immediately artists were writing and painting.
The week of the earthquake itself, on the cover of The New Yorker was a painting by Frantz Zephirin, a painter from Haiti. What he shared with other artists is that they all immediately started to use what they [could] to get out a broader sense of the catastrophe. For the writers, it was words. One of the things that was a lot more visible this time around was that the people who lived in Haiti were able to tell their stories to the rest of the world with the new social media, including the artists.
The people who have always written have continued writing, but many people who have never written before have started writing some for personal relief; some for their children, you know, as a response therapy. So, yes, art is alive and well in Haiti. (more…)