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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Unforgettable soirée of remembrance in memory of Paul Laraque

By Ardain Isma

 CSMS Magazine Staff WriterIt was an evening to remember last Sunday when the cultural center inside the Mapou bookstore in Little Haiti, Miami, was filled with Haitian compatriots who came to pay tribute to renowned Haitian poet, Paul Laraque, who died on March 8th. The activity was organized by Sosyete Koukouy, a cultural organization headed by Jean Mapou, who collaborated closely with Laraque in several cultural and literary projects.The evening began with an emotional introduction read from a prepared text in Creole by Mapou, who carefully reviewed the life of this great poet. I know Jean Mapou. He usually does not speak from prepared statements. But Sunday night, he wanted to make sure he left nothing of what needed to be said unsaid. From Jeremie, the birthplace of Laraque, to Miami, where Paul Laraque frequently visited in order to support the refugee struggle for better treatment against US immigration, Jean Mapou was polished, emotional, firmed and tearful as he recounted his personal moments with Paul Laraque.“He was unbroken like bamboo, and he remained so to the last second of his life,” Mapou said, as tears welled down his cheeks. Standing against the backdrop of a large multicolor poster of Laraque, Mapou reminded the audience of Laraque’s accomplishments—the classic oeuvres of this critically acclaimed poet grounded in his surrealism, existentialism and ultimately Marxism.Then came the Koukouy members, who one by one reached the microphone to recite a short poem in honor of Paul Laraque. In all, twenty-four poems were said—a record of its own. Koukouy member, Rose Bleus, reminded the audience that Haiti will not die if “we’re ready to die for her.”Haitian folk singer Kiki Wrinright moved the audience to tears with his acoustic guitar, singing popular and revolutionary folks songs, songs he said that Laraque greatly enjoyed singing.A delegation from the Dominican Republic headed by Sonia Pierre, award-winning human right activist, and Marisol Paez came specifically for the event. The women used the occasion to remind the audience of the shocking plight of Haitian refugees living in Dominican bateys.The evening was crafted in the same way Paul Laraque would have liked it: a traditional Haitian wake, where hot ginger tea and Haitian bread are being served. Despite the dazzling manner of which the event was organized, it was impossible to overlook the gloom in the face of many, like professor Jean Claude Exulien, Claude Charles, community activist Marleine Bastien, Haitian Times editorialist Hudes Desrameaux etc…Camille Gauthier, who collaborated with Laraque in Panacea, a quarterly publication, used the occasion to pass out to the audience several of Laraque articles.In the end, it was truly an evening to remember, for all the good reasons. I could feel the melancholy coming to wrap my soul after grasping the passing of almost all those who symbolized hope where hope was impossible to be noticed. My head down, I sat in my chair, but I was in deep thought. Paul Laraque was a true Haitian, pragmatic but revolutionary in his own right. It is through us that he and all those who have already made the journey to the unknown MUST continue to live. They will forever be missed.Also see Haiti: the lies will never endand Haiti’s petite bourgeoisie reacts to Hugo Chavez’s visit last weekNote: Dr. Ardain Isma is also a novelist and chief editor of CSMS Magazine. He teaches Cross-Cultural Studies at Nova southeastern University. You can read a synopsis of his latest novel “Alicia.” Click here: http://www.themulticulturalgroup.com/books.html

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