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Monday, June 17, 2024

Interview with poet Cancy Francois

Cancy Francois is a young and ambitious Haitian-American student at Florida Atlantic University, who is dedicated to securing his own spot in the Haitian literature. He is jovial personage with an acute thirst for perfection. He is a poet with an excellent gift of profound inspiration. Although growing up in the United States, Cancy Francois is Haitian to the core, displaying his Haitian heritage wherever he goes. He is an active member of Konbit Kreyol, the Haitian Students Association at FAU. Konbit Kreyol is considered to be one of the most sophisticated Haitian Students Associations in the United States. Cancy Francois is not only a poet; he is also a young and energetic entrepreneur. He and a group of colleagues from the University have just founded a company called Shakaitutu that is committed to the promotion of Caribbean culture in South Florida. Also see the article that co-authored with Charmaine Raymond : https://csmsmagazine.org/news.php?pg=20060801I199 CSMS Magazine spoke to him last week at his home in Boca Raton, Florida.    CSMS.: It is a pleasure to have you at CSMS Magazine. Could you please tell the readers how long have you been writing poetry?C.F.: It’s pleasure for me to be here. I’ve been writing poetry since my sophomore year in high school. CSMS.: What encouraged you to choose this path?C.F.:Poetry is a way for me to escape reality. Most people dream when they want to escape reality. For me my dreams usually turn into nightmares. So it’s better that I write.CSMS.: Where were you born, and where did you grow up?C. F.:I was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and grew up in Petion -Ville until I was fifteen. Then I moved to the United States in the heart of Little Haiti.CSMS.: I know you are a student at Florida Atlantic University, are you a member of a poetry club at your school?C.F.:No, but I did take a semester of appreciation of poetry. I loved that class.CSMS.: I see that you write beautifully in Creole, how did you come to maintain your Creole while living in an environment completely Anglophone?C.F.:Well, when I came here I lived in Little Haiti, and all of my friends were Haitians, even some of my classes were taught in Creole. I felt like I was still in Haiti, but living in a city that I wasn’t used to.CSMS.: Growing up, were reading and writing a part of your life?  Do you receive encouragement from friends at school? Did anyone in your household give you the moral support needed to succeed?C.F.: From an early age, I discovered the importance of books. The way I see it is that books represent people who have something to say to the world; but instead of saying it over and over, they put it into words. Yes, I have a few friends at school who always encourage me to write. My mother never bothers me when I’m writing and one of my older brothers usually takes pleasure in reading my poems because he himself write poetry. CSMS.: There are a lot of well-known poets in the Haitian literature. Is there anyone in particular you consider to be your favorite? Why?C.F.: My favorite Haitian poet is Félix Morisseau-Leroy. After reading his poem “testament” he left me wanted for more. The poem is simple but it talks about many interesting points.CSMS.: What role if any that multiculturalism plays in your work?C.F.: The fact that I live in South Florida, I get influenced by some of the different cultures that surround me. For example I listen to a lot of rap music and that influences my work, especially my English poems.CSMS.: Your writing focuses more on love, Creole love.  Why did you choose such topic? Do you have some other poems based on social justice, as it is the case for many Haitian writers?C.F.: I write more about love because it represents the struggle of life and the things that people go through in search of happiness. The objective is simple, we are all trying to get from point A to point B; but it’s the line we have to draw that complicate things. I do have a few poems about social justice, but it’s not my main focus.CSMS. : Do you have an English version for each of your poems ?C.F. : I don’t think that I can translate my poems from Creole to any other languages because so many things would get lost in translation.CSMS : The Haitian Students Association has just participated in a commemoration for Jacques Stephen Alexis. You produced, for that occasion, a beautiful minifilm about JSA. Have you read about him before the event ?C.F. :At first I had no idea who Jacques Stephen Alexis was. However, I started to gain interest in his work during the planning of the event. When you came to Konbit Kreyol and talked about him, I think that had an effect on me. Now I think a lot of people who were there during the commemoration are thursty to learn more about him.CSMS. : Do you regularly read Haitian authors ?C.F. : I read some Haitian authors books in my Creole class in High school. For example I read a book in class name Sikatris, there were some other books that I enjoyed but I can’t think of their names right now.CSMS. : Most poets become novelists. Do you plan to become one someday ?C.F. : I would prefer to write short stories. However, poetry that’s what interest me the most in litterature.CSMS : Has there ever been a time when you simply wanted to quit writing poetry? If there was such a time, how did you fight off such instincts?C.F. : I write poetry for fun. I like the feeling that I get when I write a poem and other people read it and find it to be beautiful. But there are times that an idea comes to my mind and I refuse to write it down because I’m doing something else or just being lazy.CSMS : People in the media like to portray sacrifice as the only road to rise to the top. Do you buy into that? If so, what do you consider as acceptable sacrifices?C.F. : I think that for everything that  people do, they have give up something else. For example the time that I take to write a poem could have been spent doing something else. However, I enjoy writing poems more than I enjoy doing a lot of other things. So I don’t consider it to be a  sacrifice.CSMS. : Do you usually give interviews about your writings ? What question you are asked the most when giving interviews?C.F. : When I write a love poems and people read them, they usually ask me who inspired me.CSMS : What kind of advice you would give to someone who would want to embark upon the same task?C.F. : I say to anyone who want to write poetry – be you and write what you feel. Meaning be yourself, poetry is about self-expression. If you really want to write poetry make sure that you enjoy it, don’t leave anything out because you worried what others would think of you.CSMS. : Between fiction and nonfiction, which one is the hardest to accomplish?C.F. : With fiction I can just let my imagination go wild. But with nonfiction I have to do research, I have to think more because it’s based on facts. So fiction is the most difficult one for me.CSMS: Besides Creole, French and English that you speak, is there any other language/languages that you speak?C.F. : I often feel the pressure to learn Spanish living in South Florida. But learning a new language takes time so I’m procrastinating on that.CSMS. : When was the last time were you in Haiti? How often do you go there?C.F. : I never had the chance to go back since I left in 99, but now I’m dying to go for a visit.CSMS. : What is your dream city you would want to visit, but one that you would never like to live in a permanent basis?C.F. : I would like to travel a lot to get a better understanding of the world, but no city in particular. I know I want to visit Africa and see where it all started. I’m hoping that will come true during the next World Cup since it will take place in South Africa.CSMS : What’s next?C.F. : Now I’m working on my business Shakaitutu, which I started with some of my college friends. You can check us out at myspace.com/shakaitutu for more infomation.CSMS : Thank you so much for taking some time out of your precious schedule to Speak to CSMS MagazineC.F. : Thanks for having me, I’m a big fan of CSMS Magazine.

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