Shapiro Translates Haitian Poetry Collection

Olivia DrakeJune 23, 20152min

haitianpoetryNorman Shapiro, professor of romance languages and literatures and the Distinguished Professor of Literary Translation, translated the book Poetry of Haitian Independence, published by Yale University Press in May 2015.

At the turn of the 19th century, Haiti became the first and only modern country born from a slave revolt. During the first decades of Haitian independence, a wealth of original poetry was created by the inhabitants of the former French Caribbean island colony and published in Haitian newspapers. These deeply felt poems celebrated the legitimacy of the new nation and the value of the authors’ African origins while revealing a common mission shared by all Haitians in the young republic: freedom from oppressors and equality for all.

This collection of Haitian verse written between 1804 and the late 1840s sheds a much-needed light on an important and often neglected period in Haiti’s literary history. Editors Doris Kadish and Deborah Jenson have gathered together poetry that has remained largely unknown and difficult to access since its original publication two centuries ago. Featuring translations a foreword by the Haitian-born novelist Edwidge Danticat, this volume describes a turning point in Haitian and world history and makes a significant corpus of poetry accessible to a wide audience.