Our Benefactors

MARYSE CAYEMITTE-ELYSEE

L’intérêt de Maryse Cayemitte-Elysée pour l’art poétique remonte à son adolescence en Haïti, pays natal de l’auteure—une époque marquée par un vibrant amour, non seulement pour les sonnets de Ronsard et les ballades de Musset, mais aussi pour le romantisme de Durand et l’immense tristesse se dégageant des œuvres d’Ardouin.

Les encouragements répétés de ses professeurs de littératures française et haïtienne qui voyaient en Maryse un poète en herbe contribuèrent largement à développer son talent. L’auteure se rappelle l’extase de Dieudonné Fardin sur Musique, un poème évoquant Les Gouverneurs de la Rosée. Un jour, Jean-Claude Fignolé, devant toute une salle de classe, usa son talent de diseur chevronné pour déclamer les vers de Maryse, comme s’il s’agissait de ceux d’un Verlaine ou d’un Dépestre. C’était la validation qu’il fallait à l’artiste pour continuer à pincer la lyre poétique. Bientôt virent le jour des poèmes tels que Réveil de la Nature, Musique, et Coup de Foudre.

Maryse émigra aux Etats Unis en 1972, abandonnant ses études à la Faculté de Droit & des Sciences Economiques de Port-au-Prince. Sa première destination fut Maryland où la nostalgie de son pays s’exprima à travers quelques élégies, telles que Fille d’Haïti, Nuits Quisquéyennes, Cafard, Mélancolie, et Savane Désolée. A Boston, elle composa Spleen, Ma Chance, Conversion, Cœur Blessé, et Soif, traduisant la solitude et l’isolement d’une jeune fille poursuivant des études académiques loin de la sollicitude de sa famille.

Revenue à Manhattan, le rythme trépidant de la vie lui volèrent le temps d’examiner ses émotions et d’emprunter le pas au lyrisme de Voltaire ou de Brièrre. Elle écrivit quand même L’Attente, Yeux, Illusions Perdues, Pourquoi, et quelques autres, traduisant les tumultes d’une existence en quête d’identité.

En 1988, le froid du nord la chassa et Maryse s’établit en Floride. Miami aurait été la venue idéale pour pincer la folle du logis. Néanmoins, la muse s’est soudainement tari hormis les esquisses telles que Confidence, Aveu, et A Haitian Epic (une pièce écrite en 1990 a l’intention de ses nombreux élèves Haïtiens en deuxième année élémentaire, en vue de les familiariser avec notre superbe épopée historique de 1804).

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MARLENE RIGAUD APOLLON

Marlène Rigaud Apollon a quitté son terre natale, Haïti, en 1964, comme la plupart des immigrés de sa génération, «pour ne jamais y retourner pour de bon». Ses écrits, en français, anglais et créole comprennent de la poésie, deux biographies, des essais et des livres pour enfants. Ils ont paru dans plusieurs journaux, magazines et anthologies. En plus des livres cités ci-dessus, elle a publié Haiti Trivia, Haiti Art Trivia, Pour l’amour d’un pays, et a édité et traduit Louis Mercier, A la Reconquête de l’Idéal Haiti, Une voix d’hier pour aujourd’hui et demain – Louis Mercier, To Reconquer the Haitian Ideal, A vioce from yesterday for today and tomorrow et La Mystique de la Citadelle-The Mystique of the Citadelle. Elle est une éditorialiste à Radio Solidarité (www.snaa.org – 1 712-432-6663)

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SCHILLER MARCELIN

Schiller Marcelin is a poet and storyteller from Port-au -Prince, Haiti. As an aspiring priest, Schiller showed his social militance skills in Port au Prince, especially after his journey in Israel. For political reasons, however, he decided to make the United States his home in the nineties. For many years now, he’s been a nurse in Florida. He is divorced, with two children, Kathleen and Richard. In December 2010, he published Extra Fatal, a CD of Creole texts, which includes monologues, poetic pieces, stories, etc.

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CASSANDRA PASCAL (Underestimated Diamond)

M. Cassandra Pascal is the Underestimated Diamond; a woman of high standards and strength. Born in the historical town of Boston, Massachusetts, she has every intention to mark her name in history as a writer who is expressive, honest, and victorious. The Underestimated Diamond is very proud of her Haitian heritage. She was born of two wonderful parents that taught her about strength and courage. From them she inherited self-love and faith in God, the biggest weapons against all obstacles.

Underestimated’s passion for writing started when she was 10 years old. She recalls having to memorize and recite poetry every week in school. Little did she know, these weekly assignments of non-stop repetition would lay the foundation for a poet and writer in the making. Over the years, Underestimated wrote several poems for school papers, community projects, churches, and non-profit organizations. During her college years, Underestimated had a great opportunity to really display her talent during a poetry reading for Black History Month. “I will always remember my very first reading,” she says, “because my poem ‘Still Walking’ brought the audience to tears.” “Still Walking” became Underestimated Diamond’s signature poem, reflecting her views on life.

After facing some unexpected obstacles and remaining silent for a while, Underestimated turned once again to writing, this time as a source of healing. Writing became her therapy, renewing her faith in God, turning her into a woman of grace and true inner beauty. Today, writing remains her true devotion, leading to breakthroughs of unlimited expression. She uses her fears as ammunition against the chains that held her down in the past. “The pen flows through the paper like the water flowing down the river; my water is pure and honest. My words shine. As the Underestimated Diamond, I want to harvest my blessing and present to you my true reflection.”

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ELLE PHILIPPE

Official WWOHD member Elle Sabrina Philippe was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Originally from Leogane, her father worked as an accountant for Victor Saliba. After a few years on Rue Magasin de L’Etat, the family moved to Carrefour (Bizoton).

In 1986, Elle left Port-au-Prince for America, first residing on Brooklyn’s Nostrand Avenue with her cousin, and later alone in Queens, Manhattan, and New Jersey. She recently moved back to Manhattan where she is raising her 11 y.o. daughter.

In America, Haitian immigrant work became Elle’s priority. Faced with numerous financial responsibilities, she became an adult overnight. “The rent had to be pay,” Ellen said. “The electricity, and so on. [I also had to think about the welfare] of the family back home.”

While working, however, Elle decided to pursue her professional dreams by enrolling at the French Culinary School, where she took night classes for many years. At the school she met renowned Jacques Pepin, the “God of French cooking.” She later travelled to Paris, where she worked under the guidance of master Paul Bocuse and perfect her sense of fine Gastronomie in Lyons.

In addition to working as a Chef, Elle encourages fellow Haitians to contribute to the education of underprivileged Haitian children by donating to J/P HRO Foundation on Crowdrise.com. The funds raised on that website go directly to the School of Hope.

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MAHALIA SOLAGES

A former Flight Attendant, Mahalia Solages collected an arsenal of characters and backdrops for her novels by flying around the world with a diverse set of customers on private jets.

Raised in Haiti, she headed back to birthplace–New York–after high school to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology and the New York School of Interior Design. After receiving a degree in Interior Design, she moved to the warmer South Florida climate to begin a new life. There, she experimented with several industries before settling into the world of aviation, even attaining a Certified Flight Instructor license.

Her daily work experience fueled her need to journal and creatively catalog all the people and circumstances that were coloring her life.

Mahalia has been writing children’s books, plays and journaling since she was in her early teenage years, but ten years ago her writing career began in earnest when she developed a more passionate interest in exploring the human psyche where relationships take center stage. From then on, every layover, delay, and hotel stationary became a most welcome opportunity to complete a chapter in a novel. Pulling from personal conflicts, real and imagined characters, Mahalia has since created two novels and is currently working on her third. These stories take readers off to international destinations while exploring themes of controversial choices, wretched heart breaks and pushing the envelope of societal norms.

Amidst the editing storm, the idea and opportunity to write a series of children’s books arose, which lead to the creation of the Lyon family in What Morning Is This? (self published August 2009), using her middle and maiden name as her pen name, Mahalia Solages. She has promoted and read her book at libraries, schools, and local book fairs. Barnes&Noble booksellers in New York and Florida featured her in author showcases. What Morning Is This? was also reviewed in Rebelle Haiti, and some of her short fictional pieces are published at WritingRaw.com.

Mahalia continues her life in South Florida with her husband, Erik, their spirited little roommate four year old Naomi and the two cats, Mischa and Mr. Nelson.

AUTHOR’S WEBSITE
http://www.mahaliasolages.com

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MARIE-THERESE LABOSSIERE THOMAS

Née aux Cayes, en Haïti, où elle a grandi, Marie-Thérèse Labossière Thomas est partie, quelques années plus tard, pour les États-Unis où elle vit encore.

Écrivain et éducatrice, elle a donné des cours en formation multiculturelle à l’intention des enseignants, dans des universités et des systèmes éducatifs régionaux. Elle a, de plus, élaboré et mis en oeuvre des programmes d’apprentissage du créole et de l’anglais à l’usage des adultes. En collaboration avec le personnel de la chaîne de télévision du DC Public Schools, elle eut l’occasion de réaliser et d’animer la série télévisée Kafou en langues anglaise, créole et française. Cette série comprenait des émissions sur l’histoire d’Haïti et sur les luttes de libération de communautés de marrons dans les Amériques, intitulées Perspective from a Small Island et A Tradition of Freedom.

Ses articles sur des sujets d’ordre politique et social en Haïti ont paru dans plusieurs journaux et sites Internet, dont Haïti-Observateur, Haïti-en-Marche, Le Nouvelliste, Alterpresse, Pikliz.com, lavilledescayes.com, ainsi que dans Kiskeya, bulletin communautaire qu’elle a publié pendant quatre années dans la région métropolitaine de Washington. Elle est également l’auteur de Nou Di, We Say, Nous Disons, un manuel trilingue de conversation ordinaire utilisé, entre autres, par des programmes éducatifs.

Elle a siégé comme membre de conseils communautaires et de comités, animé des ateliers de travail organisés par des institutions philanthropiques, éducatives et culturelles, et présenté des exposés dans des musées, des écoles, à des réunions communautaires, à l’occasion d’audiences publiques et dans les médias. Clérise d’Haïti, actuellement publié en version française par les Éditions Henri Deschamps, est son premier roman.

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JESSY TROUILLOT

Jessy Trouillot lives in Jamaica, NY.

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