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POESIE D'HAITI -JAMES NOEL AND MICHELE MARCELIN

APRIL 1, 2008
Special for THE NEW TIMES HOLLER!
© Amir Bey, 2007
James Noel and Michele Marcelin

The wall of water that descended on the city of Gonaives in Haiti, following tropical storm 'Jeanne' in September 2004, left a path of devastation in that city. 80% of the population was affected by the flooding and rains, with nearly 300,000 people left without shelter and 3,000 dead. Dead livestock contaminated water supplies, edible food was in scarce supply, crops were wiped out, access to the city was treacherous and security was non-existent. Approximately 592,000 cubic meters of mud needed to be removed from Gonaives. The recital in this video is James Noel's poetic response to this tragedy. The following is a partial interpretation of the original, which is in French and Haitian Creole:

(MICHELE)

On this naive earth comes watery death
Gonaives, Gonaives, vile city, brothel town enclosed
and double-locked in the storm and the flood

(JAMES)

we are not of this world
are not of this country
not of this town
not of this street
we are the dead...

.................

we cry in the rain to hide our tears
and having no space, we love without touching

..................

it is cold in the poem
the poet, eye-witness of this flood
trembles at the thought that
"Jeanne" will be his widow.....

we are not of this world
are not of this country
not of this town
not of this street

(MICHELE)

on this naive earth comes watery death
Gonaives, Gonaives, vile city, brothel town enclosed
and double-locked in the storm and the flood

we are not of this world
are not of this country
not of this town
not of this street
This Michele Marcelin's emotive recital of the French poet Jacques Prevert (1900-1977) can be felt whether you speak French or not! About Prevert Michele has this to say: "Which Prévert? The poet or the screenwriter, songwriter or companion of the Surrealists, a friend of Picasso or the solitary wanderer of old Paris, the provocateur or the author of children? Prévert was happy and he was sad. He was seemingly heavy, yet he climbed the stairs of Paris like an alley cat. He composed his poems like he composed his collages. Discovering and gleaning treasures everywhere, in the street, everyday conversation, old children's rhymes, popular songs, bits of familiar language.
No doubt, nothing should be removed from the frame of a work and a life intimately connected to one another."
Here is a synopsis of the poem, 'RUE DE SEINE', and a brief translation:

Synopsis:

There’s this man called Pierre you see, who lies to
this woman. And one day, he is face to face with her.
With her pain and her desire to know the truth, the
the truth which may cause even more pain. And there is
nothing left between them other than more lies, or
silence.

The poem: Rue de seine, ten thirty, at night, the corner of
another street , a young man with a raincoat and a
hat, a woman shakes him and talks to him, and he
shakes his head, they are both pale. the woman asks
this question, this grand and stupid worried question,
this wound impossible to heal - pierre I want to know
all, tell me the truth -

......................

He is lost this man called pierre, the world lies on
him and chokes him, leaves him breathless, he is
trapped, cornered by his promises,across from him is
this machine that writes love letters, this machine
that suffers, that seizes him , stays glued to him:
pierre, i want to know all, tell me the truth
.............................................
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