Paul Laraque - (1920
Poet, Editor, Educator, Activist
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
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.
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.
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
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