“Mother” is featured in Black Girls Talking “The Annex.”

 

Mother img

Black Girls Talking is a collective of four black women discussing and critiquing relevant topics from pop-culture to politics. Recently they created “The Annex,” described as a “home for cultural writing and criticism.” The Annex is seasonal and theme-based. For their premiere issue the theme is Resistance and I was humbled to have the opportunity to have a short story featured.

“Mother” is a short-story that looks at the intertwining lives of three women on an island during the eve of its revolution. The story has gone through extensive changes since being submitted to “The Annex,” but I am proud and thankful nonetheless.

You can read the full story by clicking the link.

Advertisements

Love, Anger, Madness: Review

LAM

In 1968 Haiti had been under the regime of the self-proclaimed “president for life,” François Duvalier (Papa Doc) for eleven years. The once country doctor now had the pulse of the entire country under his commanding finger. With the help of his “tonton,” Duvalier had suppressed any notion or attempt of critique or opposition. In the midst of such fierce dictatorship that left Haiti’s poor-class still economically devastated and a bourgeois class under constant threat Marie Vieux-Chavuet, a writer and member of Haiti’s elite bourgeoise society, had a book published that would forever change the course of her career and her life. 

Love, Anger, Madness is a trilogy that takes the reader on a psychological journey through Haiti at the time of severe political, social, and economic tensions. We are introduced to an “old maid,” a student, and a poet. Through each story Chauvet allows us into the hearts, the minds, and the fears of those under the Duvalier regime. Of course the story is set decades before Duvalier enters office, but that fact is was not enough to save Chauvet from having to leave her country in self-imposed exile. Love, Anger, Madness is not only a tale that harps on the cruelty of Duvalier, it is also a novel that challenges the conventionality of women and critiques the colorism that plagued Haiti’s bourgeoise society.

The first two stories (Love, and, Anger) are Chauvet’s most developed and engaging tales with two phenomenally round and complex characters. In the first tale we are presented with Claire Clamont, a dark-skinned mulatto, who is the head of her family. Claire’s tale is written in the form of a diary and exposes her struggle and ultimate rejection of an oppressive bourgeois society that has left her sexually, mentally, and emotionally unstimulated well into her forties. Claire’s erotic fantasies are played out by her younger sister, and foil, Annette, who is physically able to do all of the things Claire only scribbles in her diary or acts out in the privacy of her bedroom or the sanctuary of her mind. Both women are on opposite spectrums of shades, age, and sexual prowess, but through both of them Marie delivers us independent, opinionated, and sexually expressive women. Chauvet also reveals to us the ways in which their society punishes them and the other women in town whether virgin or presumed slut.

Chauvet continues this question of sexual agency in the complex tale of Rose, who is the daughter of a well-to-do mulatto man profiting off of the land of his black grandfather. Chauvet continues her examination of a crumbling middle-class at the hands of a once poor black dictator—we are confronted with a class of people once boisterous and comfortable in their pride now silenced and confined by it. When Rose’s family’s land is under threat of being seized the men in her family are in a panic of what to do and relegated to pathetic passivity while Rose places the heavy responsibility upon her slim shoulders. Using the sexuality that was once perversely taunted by her father she has turned her body into her most valuable weapon for fighting against the threat to her father’s property. In a society where sex is battered for protection we witness one girl’s desperation and determination to protect her family.

It is the third story (Maddness) that seems awkwardly out of place as we spend most of the time cramped in the shack with a paranoid poet, who is neither apart of the aristocratic nor middle class. It is a tale that jarringly breaks from Marie’s assumed building comparison of female sexual suppression and agency under violent political dictatorship. But nevertheless it serves as a further critique of the vicious and silencing tactic Duvalier’s regime practiced against those who did not appear to comply with his ruling. This last story, unintentionally, serves as an erie premonition of what could have possibly become Chauvet’s life had she not fled Haiti before the book’s publishing.

Marie’s whip-smart language will effortlessly pull you into her existentialist tale of extreme violence and oppression and the ways in which individuals contort themselves in order to survive. She unzips the skin of her characters and allows the reader to travel their troubled, desperate, and complex minds. Love, Anger, Madness is as much of a critique on Duvalier’s regime as it is a critique of conventionality, gender roles, women’s sexuality, religion, class, and western influence. Like the women Chauvet writes she is a martyr for her country. Chauvet delivers a novel as richly textured, tragic, and triumphant as her beautiful country. Her work is as essential to the Haitian Literary tradition as Jacque Roumain and Jacques Steven Alexis.

The Repass film needs your support

If you’re like me then you remember the first time you gazed upon the cinematic excellence of Kasi Lemmon’s Eve’s Bayou; a film that told a story of family, memory, and truth while infused with the supernatural, colorful, other-worldly-ness that is that state of Louisiana.

For years I’ve been yearning for a film like Lemmon’s and by the synopsis of Repass, it sounds like that yearning may come to an end. According to the site, Repass is a:

Supernatural thriller seven-year-old Creole Marie must witness the turmoil that erupts between her parents, Marianne and Boden, as they desperately search for their son. The beautiful and delicate Marianna is a mother whose spiritual and personal beliefs are challenged as she tries to save her son in the wake of several tragedies, while Boden is a foreign citizen whose search through the city is halted by the politics of a community in chaos. 

This seven-year-old Marie connects with her Haitian Voodoo priestess Aunt to connect with the religion in order to find her brother.

The cast & crew of The Repass were awarded wonderful news when they were guaranteed a $3,000 investment if they could get 100 donations from others (of any dollar amount). On the film’s website one can review just how organized and serious this crew is about making this film.

Often times we complain about Hollywood not creating opportunities or representing people of color, but why wait for them when we have the power to bring what we want to see to the screen.

Check out The Repass and donate any amount that you can and help not only this crew and cast, but the catalog of films featuring people of color and a rich diverse history of our African Diaspora.

Watch trailer:

The Repass Official Trailer_1080p from Rae Shaw on Vimeo.

Donate to The Repass’s Indiegogo site 

You can also follow the film’s:

twitter account

tumblr blog

facebook page

wordpress

instagram