When the Pipirite Sings
When the Pipirite Sings
Translated by formidable comparative literature scholar Haun Saussy, When the Pipirite Sings expresses an acute historical consciousness and engages recurrent Haitian themes—the wrenching impact of colonialism and underdevelopment, the purposes of education, and the merging of spiritual and temporal power. And, as always with Métellus’s poetry, the range of voices and points of view evokes other genres, including fiction and cinema. This eminently readable book has formal and thematic ties to Aimé Césaire’s Notebook of a Return to the Native Land, central to the canon of French-language postcolonial writings.
In addition to many books of poetry, Métellus published novels, chiefly about the remembered Haiti of his youth, and plays about the conquest of the Caribbean. His nonfiction included reflections on Haitian history and politics, on the iconography of slave emancipation, and studies of aphasia and dyslexia.
"Métellus’ lush epic poem about his native Haiti, originally published in 1978 and now expertly translated into English for the first time, will introduce readers to this giant voice for Haiti, its people, and the complicated colonial history it has endured. . . An exciting and important collection." —Booklist
“Jean Métellus’s strikingly original voice is finally available in a splendid translation that captures the epic sweep and tragic thrust of his hallucinatory style. Haun Saussy renders with subtle poetic nuances the poet’s engagement with Haiti’s mythic gods, its landscapes and natural disasters, and the heartbreaking fate of its children. It will now be possible to teach Métellus in world literature courses, alongside Homer, Aimé Césaire, René Depestre, or Derek Walcott, and appreciate anew his remarkable talent and singular vision.” —Françoise Lionnet, author of Postcolonial Representations: Women, Literature, Identity
"Haiti’s contributions to literature have thus far been scanted in the English-speaking world. Jean Métellus, physician-poet, has remained obscure to those who might read Rimbaud or Valéry. This is all about to change through this book, the expression of both Métellus’s and Saussy’s love for Haiti. When the Pipirite Sings should remain a standard-setting effort in the broader project of translating an increasingly disparate world." —Paul Farmer
“That Haun Saussy has translated Métellus complex and discursive Haitian Francophone original into a solid English is a feat worthy of note. That this first poetic work of the prolific Jean Metellus will be known to scholars and students of Haitian literature through a new translation is equally notable and should be celebrated.”—Danielle Legros Georges, Poet Laureate, City of Boston
"When the Pipirite Sings is a majestic and masterful work that delves into Haiti's entrails to inspire humility. Every crafted line channeled through Métellus has been honorably translated by Saussy to reckon with the complexities and surrealities of his pays natal. Indeed, this collection is evidence that only poetry can teach us to love the first Black Republic with maturity." —Gina Athena Ulysse, author of Why Haiti Needs New Narratives