René Philoctète – Haiti

René Philoctète, Haiti, writer
  
René Philoctète was born in 1932 in Haiti, died in 1995. He co-founded the literary movement ‘Spiralisme’ in the sixties with Jean-Claude Fignolé and Frankétienne. Poet, he also writes plays.
  
Novels : ‘Le Huitième Jour’, Éd. de l’an 2000, Haïti 1973 ; ‘Le Peuple des terres mêlées Deschamps’, Haïti 1989 ; ‘Une saison de cigales’, Éd. Conjonction, Haïti 1993 ; ‘Entre les Saints des Saints’, Éd. Le Temps des Cerises, Paris 2017.
  
Collections of Poesy : ‘Saison des hommes’, Port-au-Prince 1960 ; ‘Margha’, illustrations de Luckner Lazard, Port-au-Prince, Éd. Art Graphique Presse, 1961 ; ‘Les Tambours du soleil’ Port-au-Prince, Éd. Imprimerie des Antilles, 1962 (Mis en scène par Faubert Bolivar, 1999 à Port-au-Prince) ; ‘Promesse’ Port-au-Prince 1963 ; ‘Et caetera’ Port-au-Prince 1967 et Port-au-Prince, Éd. Atelier Fardin 1974 ; ‘Ces îles qui marchent’ Port-au-Prince, Éd. Spirale, 1969; et Port-au-Prince, Éditions Mémoire 1992 ; ‘Margha, Les tambours du soleil’ et ‘Ces îles qui marchent’, réimprimés en facsimile avec des poésies de René Depestre, Roger Dorsinville et Roland Morisseau) Éd. Nendeln:Kraus Reprint, 1970 ; ‘Herbes folles’ Port-au-Prince 1982 ; ‘Ping-Pong politique’ Port-au-Prince 1987 ; ‘Caraïbe’ Port-au-Prince 1982 et Port-au-Prince Éditions Mémoire, 1995 ; ‘Anthologie poétique’ Édition établie et présentée par Lyonel Trouillot, Paris Éd. Actes Sud 2003.
  
Short Stories : ‘Il faut dès fois que les dieux meurent’ (« La petite sœur aux cheveux corbeaux », « Les fiancés du Maquis de Château », « Les alouettes du miroir », « Fleurs de quénepiers et mariage d’enfants », « Le Président et les ballons stupides », « Il faut dès fois que les dieux meurent ») Port-au-Prince 1992 ;
  
Thetre : ‘Rose morte’ Port-au-Prince 1962 (texte miméographié) ; ‘Boukman, ou le rejeté des enfers. Port-au-Prince 1963 (texte miméographié) ; ‘Escargots’ Port-au-Prince 1965 (texte miméographié) ; ‘Monsieur de Vastey’ Port-au-Prince Éditions Fardin, 1975.
  
In English : ‘Massacre River’ translated into English by Linda Coverdale, published by New Directions 2005 (preface by Edwidge Danticat and introduction by Lyonel Trouillot).

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Walking Islands

[published in RN06 in December 1992,
original text in French by Publisher Spirale, Port-au-Prince 1969, translated in English by John Taylor]
  
1 –
  
O my land of my gransmother of my first loves my last
staggering in the arms of the beach
as if you had had one glass too m
  
any of your
vagabond sky
take me into your bed!
for if I have to listen to you telling me your stories
funny with Malice
it has to be in your body
o my land
that I feel your heat intoxicating me like a dawn!
  
The old men say : “come the water is ready with sagebrush with rosemary with rum. At the spring with seven heads the signs were traced and the breeze sang : “the land will be soft with the flesh of the moon favorable to your return. But no more of this land oh! swear it on the head of the angels no more of this land your steps o you who come from afar will not leave!”
  
3 –
  
The language of the frontiers is a loud one…
  
I know the lost voices of the seamen of my country O
my town hopping on the hills of the Monts
Cartaches you come back to me as surf as sea gulls as shipwrecks
My town si’mbi your dives into the palaces between two waters.
  
I say for you o my country my love never too strong
more vertiginous than sea in rejoicing
wild like a mountain wood fire
my love for islander prisoner of the fierce beaches
which take you by the waist my fairy with spring-water eyes
hook to your hair noisy birds
o my country in the step of travelling shores
my country with pure water wings
I say for you my love smelling of wedding dress
ardent as a Sunday of organ-playing
which takes you by the waist my fairy with dawn-like laughter
asks to harness the land to your victory
and sculpts gigantic gardens in your tow
where flamming climates beat about :
Martinique
Inague
Antigue
Like a grand phosphorous ballet
  
5 –
  
Child I had my bouts of delirium
And I took an exquisite delight in putting things in their places :
bridges between the red clouds at the high houses of my town
I wanted everything to be movement and to carry me away in a kind of carnaval The quays were familiar to me which drew me very far away over the ocean I rediscover in my distant childhood
this voracious desire to knock down the seas which surround me
Ah these storms the wedged smell of the vetivers the orations of the grand sister at the porcelaine Virgin’s feet… In this country of my childhood.
  
I’ve always been certain that an island moves absolutely I made mine budge Heavy as a castle Sometimes it flew On its white wings
beaches ran where naked children played with big green balls, happy heads full of popular melodies, of hasty laughs
Whole nights I followed it I gave it the steps of a migrating people
O peregrine people! Horizons! Vertigo!
Sometimes it was a wounded bird Scarlet branches and grains of blood!
  
René Philoctète
Publisher Spirale, Port-au-Prince 1969
  

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