Few countries have endured as much violence and terror at the hands of imperial power as the island nation of Haiti. Liberated from French colonialism in 1804, the world’s first Black republic has become synonymous with the poverty and degradation that colonial powers have imposed on populations across the world. Nonetheless, these narratives often shield us from more humanizing portraits of Haiti that do not rely on stereotypes and clichés. Edwidge Danticat’s Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work provides such a portrait.
From her commentary on the Haitian influences in the works of Basquiat to her account of the resilience of the Haitian people in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, Danticat’s writing leaves a lasting impression of an artist whose love of culture and ancestry is as vast as the waters which separate her from her native country. “Create dangerously for people who read dangerously. This is what I’ve always thought it meant to be a writer,” Danticat states in the opening chapter. This tension between the liberating potential of art and the oppressive power of dictatorship is a theme that emerges in several of Danticat’s essays.
Reflecting on execution of Marcel Numa and Louis Drouin, two guerilla…show more content… Above all she celebrates Haitian author Marie Vieu-Chauvet. Much like Numas and Drouin, Marie Vieu-Chauvet is celebrated as a figure willing to defy the status quo in the face of overwhelming power. The intellectual kinship that Danticat feels toward Chauvet is clear throughout, most obviously in her remark “in Marie Vieu-Chauvet’s absence [she felt] orphaned.” Again, the ethical code of creating dangerously, which also entails “living fearlessly”, bounds the two artists across generational and geographic divides. As Danticat states in the opening chapter, “somewhere, if not now, then maybe years in the future, someone may risk his or her life to read