Prof. Spear Helping to Focus Attention on Contemporary Haitian Literature

Professor Thomas Spear

Professor Thomas Spear

Professor Thomas Spear (Languages and Literatures) was an invited guest this past June at the “Quinzaine du Livre,” a two-week festival that overlapped the popular annual one-day book fair “Livres en Folie” in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. More than 130 authors, including guest of honor Edwidge Danticat, took part in the festival, which featured film screenings, theatrical productions, roundtable discussions, and poetry readings.

During his visit, Professor Spear was the featured guest on Marie-Alice Théard’s “Kiskeya, l’île mystérieuse” on Canal Bleu television; he participated in a live debate about literature with authors Emmelie Prophète and Lyonel Trouillot on Trouillot’s Radio Kiskeya morning program; he spoke at two campuses: the École Normale and the Université Quisqueya, where his lecture was recorded and subsequently broadcast; and he was interviewed by Gaspard Dorélien on his program “Cultura” on Magik 9 Radio. Consequently, Dorélien summarized the interview with Professor Spear in an article published in the Haitian daily paper Le Nouvelliste.

Professor Spear is the editor of Île en île, a database featuring authors of the world’s French-speaking islands, including over 100 Haitian writers and essayists. In January 2011, to mark the first anniversary of the tragic earthquake that devastated Haiti, the international television channel TV5 launched an online feature, titled “Lettres d’Haïti–10 auteurs d’aujourd’hui,” using selections from the original Île en île archive to feature ten contemporary Haitian authors.

“The TV5 staff is producing educational fact sheet supplements to accompany this multimedia material,” explains Professor Spear. “The goal of the project is to provide a worldwide network of some 60,000 teachers of French with classroom material to develop communication, intercultural, and sociolinguistic skills through the study of original texts and audio and video material.”

The series was launched in September with poet James Noël. Four more Haitian writers featured in the Île en île archive will be added to the online teaching resources at the rate of one writer per month.

In other news, Professor Spear recently published “Poles and Centers,” an article in the January 2011 issue “Expanding the Caribbean, Othering America” of Contemporary French and Francophone Studies. His article, “Paulette Poujol Oriol’s Polyphonic Tragicomedies,” was published in the fall 2011 issue of The Journal of Haitian Studies.