Jan Mapou

Estrè Pwezigram, yon rekèy pwezi Jan Mapou:

Operatè, souple, pase-m AYITI
Awi! Petyonvil?…
Tonton Mèmè, se mwen Filibè
Pawòl anpil, machwè gonfle
Evite miyò pase mande padon
Tonton, tankou ou konnen
Fò yon nonm kò likid
Pou rantre nan boutèy Nouyòk
Si lasante kenbe
Se neglijans lasoufrans
Se san di petèt
Mabi? awi! tèt ti nèg mabi
Mannigèt pa brannen ti Mari
Nouyòk, Milo
Fò ou pran pou konnen
Tanpe dwèt, goute, pa table
Nouyòk, Peyi ‘Obespyè do kouyè’
Peyi ‘gran Pyon’
Kote Solèy balize sou tèt goustabak
Kote Jwif pile kretyen vivan
San di padon souple
Kote lamama pwès
Kote bèl dyòl
Bèl pwomès
Kèk kenken, miyanmiyan, ou’a yan!
Kote dyab manje dyab
Kote yon larivyè moun
Tout koulè
Tèt won
Tèt kare
Tèt doumbwèy
Je won
Je chire
Je wouj
Je koulèv
Ap kouri, file, monte, desann
Nan yon wilibè vèvè
Espektak tralalap
Tyoukoup-tyoukap, Asko sou ray
Mème, isit tankou Lakay
Douk sou douk
Menm bwa kilibwa
Fanm ak rat
Mòde soufle
Douz metye, trèz mizè
Bourik kouri pase chwal.

From Pwezigram, by Jan Mapou
New York, NY, 1981

*   *   *

Jan Mapou was born in the City of Les Cayes in the southern section of Haiti. He has a BA degree in Accountant.  He studied at the University of Ethnology and became a schoolteacher in several “schools” in Haiti (1965-1969). He worked for the National Bank of Haiti for 7 years.

In the cultural arena, Jan Mapou is one of the founders of the Haitian Creole Movement in Haiti in 1965, which gave birth to Sosyete Koukouy. Jailed by the government of Duvalier (Papa Doc) in 1969 because of his intensive cultural activity to promote his maternal language, the Haitian Creole, he  was forced to migrate to New-York in 1972; he later moved to Miami in 1984.

He is the founder and artistic director of Sosyete Koukouy of New-York and Miami, a Haitian, multi-disciplinary arts company committed to preserving the Haitian culture traditions and rituals. Sosyete Koukouy stands for <<Society of Fireflies>>. Its immediate mission is to build bridges and increase dialogue and understanding between ethnic groups. The company has performed throughout the United States, Canada and Haiti.  Out of hundreds of performances, some of them took place at a variety of major venues in Florida such as the Miami-Dade County Auditorium and the Gusman Performing Arts Center.  Jan Mapou and the artists of Sosyete Koukouy were key players in working with the Miami-Dade County to make the “Discover Miami Program” a very successful community event for 4 years in a row.

Those who know Mapou talk of him as the backbone of the Haitian culture in the Diaspora.  He is the glue that keeps people together.  He is an integrated approach to art. He is a poet, playwright, columnist and author of several books. He wrote 2 poetry books, one short story and 8 plays. He directed more than 15 plays in Haiti, New York and Miami. Currently, Sosyete Koukouy, the organization he co-founded in Haiti in 1965, has Chapters in Canada, Connecticut, New-York, Tampa Bay, Miami, Homestead and Haiti.  The Miami Chapter was founded in 1985.  Jan Mapou manages to do all this around the fringes of his day job. He was the head of all parking operations at  the Miami International Airport, managing over 125 employees for the past 27 years with an annual gross revenue of $42 million dollars. He recently retired from this job with great honor and merit.

Jan Mapou is the owner of Libreri Mapou Bookstore located next to the Caribbean Marketplace in Little Haiti; the only Haitian Book Store in the nation with an impressive inventory of books in Creole, French and English and Spanish exclusively about Haiti. Located in the heart of Little Haiti, the Bookstore is also a cultural center, the home of the artists of the well-known Sosyete  Koukouy. Mapou hosts two radio programs on education and culture on WLRN Public Radio on Fridays and radio Mega on Sundays. He has a weekly column in Haiti en Marche since the creation of the newspaper in 1987. Before that, he had a weekly column for the weekly Haitian newspaper Haiti Observateur in New York. He just published   Pawol Kreyol #1 and #2 with the collaboration of  the members of Sosyete Koukouy. Pawol Kreyol is the first  “Revi literè” in the Haitian Kreyol literature.

Jan Mapou sat and still seats  on several board of directors  sharing his knowledge and experience with organizations such as The Miami Book Fair International, the Haitian Museum Heritage, C.A.C.E.C, The Haitian  Historical Society and  he is the co-founder of the Haitian Cultural Arts Alliance, and SODEPA in Haiti.

Jan Mapou has received several recognitions from The City of Miami, Miami-Dade County Commissioners especially from former Commissioner Barbara Carey, late commissioner Arthur Teele, Mayor  Alex Penelas and The School Board.  Several local organizations have recognized his contributions to our society.  He received the MAXIE Award; the highest award an artist/promoter may receive in Miami and recently the Governor of Florida Charlie Chris honored him in Tallahassee. He was the recipient of the 2007-Folk Life Award from the State of Florida.  Last June 2011, he was a special guest of the Library of Comgress in Washington D.C  where he recorded for history and humanity  his life and realizations. Mapou is married, has 4 children and 5 grandchildren.

 

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