The Latin American Writers Institute’s (LAWI) Hostos Review Issue #17 is a call to speak and delve deeper into the Caribbean’s under told history of blackness. “De las condiciones negras: un diálogo entre el Caribe francófono y el Caribe hispano/ Des conditiones noires: un dialogue entre les Caraïbes francophones et hispanophones/ Black Conditions: A French-Spanish Caribbean Dialogue” is a tri-lingual— English, French, and Spanish—homage to the mostly (untold and) unexplored story on the plural intersectionality that exists in the Caribbean because of the numerous European imperial nations that took hold of the lands. The repercussions are felt, seen, and heard to this day, and language plurality is an obvious reminder of this history but has mostly gone unspoken about until now.
But, thanks to LAWI leadership and the thoughtfulness of Hostos Professor and Hostos Review Editor-in-Chief Inmaculada Lara-Bonilla the tide is turning for she made Issue #17 possible. With the support of the Hostos Office of the President on Wednesday, October 27, LAWI and Lara-Bonilla, brought Des conditiones noires: un dialogue entre les Caraïbes francophones et hispanophones guest editors Reynolds Andújar, Governors State University and Jean Jonassaint, Syracuse University for a virtual gathering. Together they welcomed contributing writers Marie-Célie Agnant, Haiti-Canada; Kianny Antigua, Dominican Republic-US; Dominique Deblaine, Guadeloupe; Yaissa Jiménez, Dominican Republic; Lauristely Peña, Dominican Republic; Evelyne Trouillot, Haiti; and Sherezada “Chiqui” Vicioso, Dominican Republic-US, as well as translator Asselin Charles, Haiti-Canada, for a gathering that poetically began to address the vast and painful histories of blackness, colonialism and racism in the Caribbean and its diasporas.
Hostos President Daisy Cocco De Fillipis remarked on the splendor of the occasion and served as translator and orator to one of the evenings poems dedicated to Haiti by renowned and beloved Dominican author and poet Chiqui Vicioso titled “Haiti.”
All the poets, scholars, and writers shared beautiful passages about reconciliation, meeting the self, feeling the tears of being misunderstood and oppressed, or the celebration of blackness in their personal lives and their own countries. But a special well of sentiment and respect brewed for Haiti.
Guest translator Hugo Pierre Georges Cantin, remarked, “I consider that art and literature constitute bridges towards others. When one thinks that the ostracism the people from Haïti suffer from within the Caribbean, I can only thank the organizer of this issue.”
I imagine you an adolescent
Fragrant vetiver, tender with dew
without the numerous scars
displayed in the traffickers’ maps
and multicolor banners sold
on the sidewalks of Port-au-Prince,
Jacmel, Saint-Marc, and Artibonite
in a dramatic tin plate bargain.
traveler who eagerly smiles at me
interrupting the quiet of paths,
softening stones, paving dust
with your sweaty, bare feet.
Haiti, who can give art a thousand shapes
and who paints the stars with your hands
I found out that love and hate
share your name.
By Sherezada “Chiqui” Vicioso
Translated into English by Dr. Daisy Cocco De Fillipis
Hostos Review/ Revista Hostosiana is a journal of literature and culture published by the Latin American Writers Institute (LAWI) of Eugenio María de Hostos Community College. LAWI seeks to generate conversations on some of the most pressing cultural issues of our time, as well as to nourish relationships between authors and editors across the Americas. Grateful acknowledgement is made to Syracuse University for its financial support of this special issue.