“Art is Haiti’s own ambassador – it can make its own path,” says Edwidge Danticat, who recently talked to the Reporter about her most recent works, Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work and Haiti Noir. The former is a collection of essays compiled over the years and completed as part of Toni Morrison’s Society Lecture Series. Haiti Noir is an anthology of stories Danticat edited for the acclaimed Akashic Noir Series. This compilation of dark tales illuminates the complexities and nuances of Haiti and her people. The literary adventure opens with the eerily ominous Odette, a harrowing tale set during the earthquake, written by Boston-based poet Patrick Sylvain.
BHR: When did you first start working on Create Dangerously?
Edwidge Danticat: About two years ago I was invited to do the Toni Morrison Society lecture series. I was only the second invitee, Cornel West was the first – no pressure there. When you’re doing these types of things, it’s good to find something you’re passionate about. If you share your passion, then you can share something meaningful. So I picked “the immigrant artist” as my subject. And part of the series is to publish a book. I’ve been writing these essays for years, although some of them were new.
BHR: In the middle of telling each story you stop to share your thoughts and insights. Is this part of your responsibility as an immigrant artist?
ED: I was trying to interpret my own sense of it – the way I interpret my own path. It’s nearly impossible for me to come from the place I come from - to pretend that I’m just writing. It’s a lot. When you’re writing an essay you hope to interpret your own journey. Happily taking the responsibility and duty to share and tell personal, intimate stories. The artist’s responsibility is to try to represent as truthfully and as carefully what that individual knows (to be true).Read more