Little known in the United States outside of academic circles, Evelyne Trouillot is one of Haiti’s most celebrated intellectual thinkers. A prolific writer, Trouillot has authored numerous children’s books, a collection of poetry and a collection of short stories, numerous plays, two novels, and countless essays and articles in both the mainstream and academic press. True to her Caribbean roots, Trouillot writes in French, Creole, and English, and has examined the current state of the Creole and French languages in Haitian society in a number of academic papers.
This 2005 discussion between Trouillot and Haitian-American novelist Edwidge Danticat is a standout in the BOMB Magazine series because more than any other, the interview is truly a conversation between two artistic equals than a traditional Q&A. In it, Trouillot and Danticat discuss Haiti’s complex history of violent political unrest and natural disasters and how each has dealt with that legacy in and through their work.
Read the full interview from BOMB Magazine Issue 90, Winter 2005.
Edwidge Danticat: In September 2004, Haiti experienced yet another national disaster. As the third of three devastating storms—Tropical Storm Jeanne—raged through the Caribbean, it struck Haiti’s fourth largest city, the port city of Gonaïves, the birthplace of the country’s 200-year-old independence, leaving 3,000 people dead and a quarter of a million homeless. In one of the city’s largest hospitals, patients drowned in their beds. In surrounding houses, parents watched helplessly as their children were swept away. Fields and livestock representing years of Herculean labor were washed into the sea because the nude, eroded soil offered little resistance to the flash floods and mudslides. What was your first reaction to this catastrophe? I was told that you sat down and wrote a poem.