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Arts & Culture

Creole Language To Play Starring Role In Little Haiti Book Festival

Sosyete Koukouy
Books in Haitian Creole will take center stage at the Little Haiti Book Festival.

Haitian Creole is the national language of the Republic of Haiti, spoken by nearly the entire population of the island nation. It's also spoken by at least one million people residing throughout the Caribbean and the United States. So it should be a fairly simple task to find plenty of books in the language, right?

"The literature is not really valued because Creole has had a very difficult history in Haiti," says Haiti-born author M.J. Fievre. "For years it wasn't considered a real language."

Fievre is one of the organizers of the Little Haiti Book Festival, where literature written in Haitian Creole will be taking center stage.

Although Creole was recognized in 1961 as Haiti’s official language, French is still considered the language of government officials and the upper class. For years, Haitians who spoke only Creole were often treated as second-class citizens. 

So, according to Fievre, it was critical for the organization that co-sponsored the book festival, Miami's Sosyete Koukouy, to raise awareness about the breadth and richness of Haitian Creole literature.

"So that people know how beautiful the language is," says Fievre. "And that we actually have many, many books now."

For non-Creole speakers who want to participate in the festival's literary panels and Q&As, microphone headsets will be made available to listen to professional interpreters.

The Little Haiti Book Festivalwill also feature craft talks, workshops for writers, hands-on activities for children, a film screening, a dance workshop, poetry, dance and music performances.


The Fifth Annual Little Haiti Book Festival
(Co-sponsored by Miami Book Fairand Sosyete Koukouy of Miami)

Cost: Free and Open To The Public
Locations: Little Haiti Cultural Complex, 212 NE 59th Terrace, Miami; and
Libreri Mapou, 5919 NE Second Ave, Miami


Christine DiMattei is WLRN's Morning Edition anchor and also reports on Arts & Culture.
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