Indran Amirthanayagam is a true global poet, and this book in Kreyòl ayisyen (Haitian Creole) is his most important thus far. Here, an outside observer, living in the land as a cultural attaché, gives the language and culture of Haiti the ultimate respect—poems that bring the joys and pain, love, mysteries and history of the everyday life of the people into Poetry’s orbit. Amirthanayagam is a poet like no other (he also writes in Spanish, French, Portuguese), and this book is a grand achievement.
—Bob Holman, Poet, Professor, Producer: The United States of Poetry, founder: Bowery Poetry Club
This book is a Love poem to Haiti written in the language of the Haitian people by a Sri Lankan-born poet who lives in the United States where, among other things, he writes a Poetry/Culture column for the newspaper Haiti en Marche. His love of that island is real and in the finest tradition of immigrant culture.
—Jack Hirschman, emeritus Poet Laureate of San Francisco
Here is a long love note to Haiti—a beautiful centering of it by poet and diplomat Indran Amirthanayagam. Written on the eve of his taking the country’s leave, the poems offer up the complicated negotiations of the heart’s farewell: to the land, to relationships forged, to a specific cultural sensibility and cosmology. Amirthanayagam situates himself simultaneously as insider and outsider, a stance that supports a space of great sympathy, clarity and fertile opacity. Here is a poet keenly aware of the work of poems, and poets, to word the world—and to create the bridges that connect us.
—Danielle Legros Georges, Boston Poet Laureate, 2015–2019
Language takes center stage as subject and objective in these intelligent and essential poems by Indran Amirthanayagam. How to recenter what is personally important and politically necessary? The solution is radical poetic license. License as in drive, marry, shoot. In these poems written by the poet in Haitian Creole, and then self-translated into English, readers are given Haiti in this urgent moment, and in presenting us with Haiti, we are given humanity.
—Kimiko Hahn, Chancellor, The Academy of American Poets, author of Foreign Bodies