“I am not afraid of chaos, because chaos is the womb of light
and life. What I don’t like is mismanagement of chaos.”
Franketienne, known as the “father of Haitian letters, is 75 and still going strong. He’s published some 40 books and is also a visual artist: by his own count, he’s created 2000 paintings and sketches. He’s a freewheeling free spirit who invents new words by blending French and Haitian Creole. He’s a devotee of James Joyce. “Finnegan’s Wake was like a crazy book, just like I write crazy books,” he told an interviewer.
The Haitian-American writer, Edwidge Danticat, grew up in the same neighborhood as Franketienne, and was to some degree, inspired by him to become an author herself. She describes his impact in this way: “His work can speak to the most intellectual person in the society as well as the most humble. It’s a very generous kind of genius he has, one I can’t imagine Haitian literature ever existing without.”
Though he spoke only Creole as a child, he was sent to a French-speaking school. Angered when other children teased him, he set about mastering the French language and developed a love of words and artistic expression along the way. One of his novels, Dezafi, is especially admired, but after he wrote it, he became frustrated by the fact that few of his countrymen could read it because half of Haiti’s population is illiterate. In response, he started writing plays. One of them, called “The Trap,” predicted the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti.
Asked for the source of his foreknowledge, he answered that he has learned to “listen to the divine music in all of us….”Everything is interconnected. We are connected to everything, everyone.” What a wonderful wordsmith to count among us! Let’s take a tip from a wise old writer and listen for our own divine music. It’s all there inside us, just waiting to be heard.