Langston Hughes, it would widely be accepted by many lay readers is the singular literary advocate of the American Negro and the black experience. Just as singular in literary advocacy for the people and history and tongue of Haiti is poet and writer Edwidge Danticat. A 2009 Recipient of a MacArthur “Genius Grant”, Danticat’s poems and writing range from The Farming of Bones a novel chronicling the slaughter of Haitian citizens by Dominican Republic general Rafael Trujillo’s in 1937 to Eight Days: A Story of Haiti which Danticat weaves a story of boy trapped under his house during the cataclysmic earthquake in Haiti.
Friday, November 18th 2011 City College and the Langston Hughes Festival will present this stellar literary talent with the Langston Hughes Medal. Professor G. Thompson, Director of the Langston Hughes Festival and the Hughes festival have planned a day of celebration of the this National Book Critics Circle award winner beginning at 11Am at Shepard Hall (room 250) with moderator Dr. Regine Latortue of Brooklyn College, CUNY. It is open to the public.
At 6:30PM at Aaron Davis Hall free and open to the public, with a reception following. Professor Danticat will join James Baldwin and later included Nigeria’s Chinua Achebe, Derek Walcott from Saint Lucia, and most recently, the first black lady of science fiction, Octavia Butler in receiving the prestigious national award in memory of literary treasures given to the world by Langston Hughes and those of the African diaspora. Danticat will be the first French-Caribbean medal recipient.
Dr. Thompson points out that Hughes visited Haiti in 1932 and translated Haitian writer, Jacques Roumain’s Masters of the Dew. Edwidge Danticat later entitled one of her works The Dew Breakers.
“One New York afternoon, when he came home from work, he found her sitting on the edge of the bed in that small room, staring at the pictures of herself on the opposite wall. She didn’t move as he kissed the top of her head,” so ends a portion of one tableaux from The Dew Breakers.”
As an African-American with St. Croix roots Thompson ponders Dew Breakers.
“It has something to say to me to look back from New York to life in the islands. It has something to do with nostalgia and something with the cosmopolitan life here versus the rural environment, the speed and personality of New York contrasted with the more intimate relationships in the islands”
The evening will conclude with Concrete Theater company giving a dramatic reading of Langston of Langston Hughes’ The Emperor of Haiti and Guy Regis Jr.’s The Father.
Tod Roulette’s writes on art and culture for HW magazine and others and is currently at work examining four generations of female members of his Mid West family, “Rowing, Not Drifting-Bryant Women in Kansas, 1795-1908: The Expansion of the West and the Participation by Women of Color”.