Outside of Port-au-Prince, grass peeks through the cracks of stones laid down side by side on the ground bearing no names or markings for the bones they cover. Today, it has been ten years since the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that brought so much death and destruction to Haiti. Today, there are articles talking about the earthquake itself, the outpouring of funds that were sent as relief, the lack of promises fulfilled, the natural disasters that followed, the many who are still displaced, the ongoing protests taking place now and so on and so forth and so much to reflect on.
I think of Puerto Rico where an earthquake just happened this past Tuesday and how much bigger the response should be. Then I think of how big the response was for Haiti and how little got done. And finally, I think of how small I am, an artist working to bring more awareness to issues particularly for those who are oppressed, particularly against the machine, particularly to inspire, to empower and to educate. I think of how I am not afforded the luxury of daisies in my art, that the idea for me is to hold something fragile in my hands and show its strength or to watch it break and fall apart only to paint gold in the cracks.
This time last year, I was coming home from Simone, my one woman show consisting of original poems telling the story of a Haitian immigrant earthquake survivor trying to make it in the United States but being threatened with deportation. When I wrote the poems, there were many real time conversations happening around ending temporary protected status for Haitians as well as immigrants from other countries. I thought of Haitians returning, some to nothing and no one. I thought about my trip to Haiti six months after the earthquake, all the rubble still in the streets, all the tents everywhere, the demise of the presidential palace that had me in awe when I was a child. I thought about another trip in 2014 and people were still displaced because of the earthquake. Even today, there are people in Haiti without a home since the earthquake. Simone was the art that poured out of me and I was really intentional about performing on January 12th to honor the dead, to honor the living.
It's a frustrating thing to create art and wonder what it actually does so I try not to stay in that space for too long. I try to sit with the idea that someone knows more today than they did yesterday because of a poem I dared to tell the truth in and maybe, just maybe, it ripples out. The other night, someone told me that he had read my book, Dreaming in Kreyol, several times and that it had changed and expanded what he knew about Haiti. I can only hope to do that with all my art, hold a story up to the light so everyone can see the unseen and hear the unheard more clearly.