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Paul Laraque

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Clement Jumelle 
Mme Pierre Estiverne
Ulrick Jolly
Cpt. Chenon Michel
Col. Henri Clermont
Lucette Ambroise
Franck Simon
Frank Seraphin
Wilhem Turnier

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Paul Laraque - (1920 - 2007)
Poet, Editor, Educator, Activist

Paul- who was born in Jérémie, Haïti, on September 21, 1920 - married his beloved Marcelle Pierre-Louis in 1951 while he was an officer in the Haitian Army.The couple had their first child, Max (Boom) the following year. In 1953 Serge (Calin) was born and in 1955. Marcelle gave birth to a daughter: Danielle (Poucette)

After he had his first child, Paul - who had always written poetry - began to submit his poems to various Haitian magazines. During the mid 1950s, Paul published many poems in the Haitian literary magazine Optique using the pen name of Jacques Lenoir


Paul's writing became more political after 1957, when François Duvalier became Haiti's president by intimidating voters with his private militia of armed thugs. Those gangs later become the feared Tonton Macoutes when Duvalier purged the army in 1959.


After the purge, the Duvalier regime became increasingly angry with Paul for his writing and political views. The army was about to strip Paul of his military commission when Paul's extended family urged him to leave Haïti. He fled to Spain in 1961. Paul eventually joined his brother Franck in New-York, where he was later reunited with wife Marcelle and their three children. Two years later, the Duvalier regime took away Paul's Haitian citizenship.

Paul did not speak English when he first arrived in the United States, but he quickly learned. After mastering his adopted language, Paul joined the facutly of Fordham Preparatory School in the Bronx, where he taught French for more than two decades.

While he was teaching, Paul authored several books of poetry in French and Creole. He also served as the secretary-general of the Association of Haitian Writers Abroad from 1979 until 1986.

In 1979, Paul was the first French-language author to win the Cuban Casa de las Américas Prize for his book Les Armes Quotidiennes/ Poésies Quotidienne. He was a member of the Casa literary jury in 1981.

At the end of the Duvalier dynasty in 1986, Paul and Marcelle went back to Haiti after 25 years in exile. But Paul and Marcelle left Haiti a second time and returned to New York in 1991 after the overthrow of President Jean Bertrand Aristide and the murder of Paul's brother Guy, who also was a poet and a literary critic.

Paul's book have been translated into many languages including Spanish, English and Italian. His published works include Ce qui demeure ( What has remained), Fistibal (Slingshot), Camourade, Sòlda mawon (Maroon Soldier) and the anthology Oeuvres incomplètes (Incomplete Works), among others. In 2001, Paul collaborated with Jack Hirschman and the two men edited Open Gate: An Anthology of Haitian Creole Poetry (Curbstone Press, 2001). Paul's last book was a critical memoir, Haïti: entre la lutte et l'espoir (Haïti: Between Strggle and Hope) (Edition CIDICHCA, 2004), which he authored with his brother Frank Laraque.

Paul is survived by his brother Franck; his children: Max and his wife Elaine, Serge, and Danielle and her husband Luigi Arena; ten grandchildren: Serge-Boukman, Takisha-D'Ife, Nadia, Paul, Marc, Amber, Julia, Curtis, Malcom and Selena; and two great grandchildren: Sadie and Amani.


 

 

Ballade de l'Exil 
Par Paul Laraque

"C'est un dur métier que l'exil"
-Nazin Hikmet

Pour nos enfants

homme de neige
et de fleurs
vivant selon l'instant
et jouant sur le temps

homme de toutes les saisons
et surtout de printemps
et d'herbe verte
comme l'enfance
ou la terre natale
ou le désir qui fait flamber l'amour
comme le four
où cuit le pain du jour
homme de neige
et de fleurs
vivant selon l'instant
et jouant sur le temps
homme de toutes les saisons
et surtout de printemps
et d'herbe verte
comme l'enfance
ou la terre natale
ou le désir qui fait flamber l'amour
comme le four
homme de neige
et de fleurs
l'exil est ta prison


femme-enfant
femme de tête et de cœur

ange gardien des invalides
petite fée des laboratoires
princesse du royaume des livres
femme libre des temps nouveaux
fille de la légende
qui enfante l'histoire
enfant de l'espoir
enfant que lamour invente...

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