The people did not elect me. I speak with one voice that may echo other people, but I am part of a group of people. That's not distancing yourself from a community, that's also allowing the space for others to speak for themselves.
I think Haiti is a place that suffers so much from neglect that people only want to hear about it when it's at its extreme. And that's what they end up knowing about it.
It's hard to tell what people will do with the word and how they'll be circulating it but I think the storytellers and the stories themselves will always be there.
Wonderful thing about novels is that sometimes we read a novel and we know the person in the novel more than we know people in our own lives.
The way the media cycle works, the way the news works, and the way people's attention span works, is that we only learn that people exist when there is crisis.
I also know there are timeless waters, endless seas, and lots of people in this world whose names don't matter to anyone but themselves. I look up at the sky and I see you there.
I think it's hard for an outsider to capture the flavor of a community and all its nuances, so ultimately Haitian-Americans need to start sharing intimate accounts of their stories.
I'm happy to be part of this chorus of people who are trying to tell more complex stories about Haiti.
When people think about this religion, they'll say "voodoo" this and "voodoo" that in the way the Hollywood movies show it: the sticking of pins in dolls. It's very different than Vodou - which is a religion that comes to Haiti from our ancestors in Africa. I want to differentiate it from the stereotypical, sensationalized view that we see of the religion.
I hope to be a good role model for my daughters.
I think all artists are looking for a subject or are sometimes unsure of their subject, but immigrant artists bring another culture to that and they bring also the place where the original culture meets the new culture.
Writing is the way I participate in the struggle.
People are just too hopeful, and sometimes hope is the biggest weapon of all to use against us. People will believe anything.
Art is a luxury but also a necessity.
When you write ,it's like braiding your hair. Taking a handful of coarse unruly strands and attempting to bring then unity.
Create dangerously, for people who read dangerously. ... Writing, knowing in part that no matter how trivial your words may seem, someday, somewhere, someone may risk his or her life to read them.
Life was neither something you defended by hiding nor surrendered calmly on other people's terms, but something you lived bravely, out in the open, and that if you had to lose it, you should lose it on your own terms.
Love is like the rain. It comes in a drizzle sometimes. Then it starts pouring and if you're not careful it will drown you.
You learned in school that you have pencils and paper only because the trees gave themselves in unconditional sacrifice.
I come from a place where breath, eyes, and memory are one, a place from which you carry your past like a hair on your head. Where women return to their children as butterflies or as tears in the eyes of the statues that their daughters pray to
And the fact that Haiti was occupied for 19 years by the United States, from 1915 to 1934.
Especially moments when things are very difficult and complicated for me and I am still trying to grasp what is happening and I am still trying to understand and to reach family back home.
Vodou is one of the religions practiced in Haiti, a rich religion for the people.
For the majority of the people it is a difficult place to live. That's a reality that we can't ignore. But there is also great beauty to it.
When you are working on something, you have to believe that people will still be reading when you're done!
In the 1980s, when people were just beginning to talk about AIDS, there were just a few categories of those who were at high risk: homosexuals, hemophiliacs, heroin addicts, and Haitians. We were the only ones identified by nationality.
Creating these messes that go from administration to administration and then you swoop in and clean them up - with that heroic Delta force - people not realizing that they were always there but doing different things than what we see them doing at the moment.
We need literature because we wouldn't fully know ourselves without it. We need good literature to be fully human.
That experience of touching down in a totally foreign place is like having a blank canvas: You begin with nothing, but stroke by stroke you build a life. This process requires everything great art requires-risk-tasking, hope, a great deal of imagination, all the qualities that are the building blocks of art. You must be able to dream something nearly impossible and toil to bring it into existence.
It seemed from the media that we were being told that all Haitians had AIDS. At the time, I had just come from Haiti. I was twelve years old, and the building I was living in had primarily Haitians. A lot of people got fired from their jobs. At school, sometimes in gym class, we'd be separated because teachers were worried about what would happen if we bled. So there was really this intense discrimination.
I think novels just really show us the deepest parts of people's hearts, and you cannot walk away anymore and say, "I don't know."
On some levels, you can also have this feeling that we are being duped, somehow. And that the world is at play for something you would understand more if it were pure ideology. It is a very strange time and also basic things are being taken away.
I see the sharp inequality between how Haitian and Cuban refugees are treated in Florida. Both groups come here because their lives are equally desperate. But on arrival, the Haitians are incarcerated, and some are immediately repatriated, whereas Cubans get to stay and are eligible for citizenship.
The more practice you have, the less stressful writing is.
AIDS was something that was put upon us [as haitians], and we were immediately identified with it. That is unfair. That is unjust. I always say, "We are all people living with AIDS." It's not like you can avoid it. It's part of our world.
Being a shy child, I always longed for a mask. Even in my adult life, I have glasses, they are my mask.
I'm not saying Cubans don't deserve asylum, but if it is a national security issue, there are people who are coming from Cuba on hijacked airplanes. Why isn't that a national security issue?
Life's hard in Haiti right now. And the hardest thing is that the future does not lie with one person.
Pretend that this is a time of miracles and we believe in them.
There are many possible interpretations of what it means to create dangerously, and Albert Camus, like the poet Osip Mandelstam, suggests that it is creating as a revolt against silence, creating when both the creation and the reception, the writing and the reading, are dangerous undertakings, disobedience to a directive.