apre dans, tanbou lou

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Here is some cut-paper art, because cut paper is the latest craft technique in which I am dabbling, and because nothing chases the blues away like tedious creative work.

IMG_2491There is a Haitian proverb, Apre dans, tanbou louliterally, ‘After the dance, the drums are heavy,’– that describes the feeling of letdown and melancholy after a big event. The drums felt heavy this week returning to Port-au-Prince after a whirlwind weekend in Pennsylvania with many of my favorite people, celebrating the wedding of my beautiful friends.

But:

  • On the plane from Ft. Lauderdale I made friends with four Haitian-born American men who were seated around me. They were all functionally illiterate, and it made me so curious about the story that each of them might be able to tell me about their path to becoming American citizens. I didn’t get their stories, but I helped them fill out their customs forms and one of them gave me a pack of gum as a present!
  • Wednesday was the first (exhilarating/vulnerable) meeting of my new writing group, inspired by Women of Letters, a monthly performance/literary salon in Brooklyn. Our theme this month was A Letter to my Unexpected. I’m grateful for the space and the push to write! There’s something really meaningful about sitting down to make narrative sense out of my scattered thoughts.

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    Filmmaker Raoul Peck at FOKAL
  • Also on Wednesday, I went to a great free concert at the Institut Francais featuring Leyla McCalla, formerly of the Carolina Chocolate Drops.
  • Yesterday I miraculously got in to an invitation-only screening of I Am Not Your Negro followed by a Q&A with director Raoul Peck (who is Haitian). Go see this documentary if you haven’t– based on James Baldwin’s final, unfinished manuscript. It is incredibly powerful. I can’t stop thinking about it.
  • The flamboyant trees are still blooming! Living in a place that is painted in such vibrant color makes me deeply happy.

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So even though the drums are heavy, I’m grateful for the patchwork of unexpected and thought-provoking experiences that make every day in Haiti a learning experience.

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