Wednesday, August 22, 2007



Jacques Fleury was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti but has lived in the Somerville/Cambridge axis for many of his 36 years. He is a poet, freelance writer, journalist and hosts the Cambridge Access TV show: “Dream Weavers.” His poetry and writings have been in The Boston Haitian Reporter, Spare Change News, The Somerville News, The Alewife, The Bridge, What’s Up, etc…He is currently working on a short fiction collection and his most recent book of poetry is the collection: “Sparks in the Dark…”

Doug Holder: You grew up in Haiti, a country known for its oppressive dictatorships. How is poetry viewed by the people and the powers that be?

Jacques Fleury: The government exiles poets who incite “subversive ideologies” in public. The government doesn’t want musicians and artists ‘educating” the public. In Haiti you are taught to recite in school; you are not taught to think. You are not taught to examine things and come up with your own original point of view. I didn’t even know what critical thinking was until I started college here in America.

DH: What can happen to an artist if he expresses his “opinion” in Haiti?

JF: You can disappear. Your own family member could be waiting to turn you in for a few bucks. You can be killed. My mother has horrific story in which she was almost killed for wearing a red dress. Red supposedly represented some subversive ideology. She had to be pardoned of that. Enjoy your individual rights here in America because in countries like Haiti people can slap you and walk away.

DH What would have your chances of becoming a writer been if you remained in Haiti?

JF: Not much. All the artists I knew as a kid who were evolving, and got to the point of influencing people, were exiled or killed. The government gave you the option. They didn’t want the public to think: “Hey maybe I got a raw deal, so these artists were dealt with.”

DH: Is it still like that in Haiti?

JF I think policies are a little less draconian than they were—but I haven’t really been looking. I have been too busy with my own life right now.

DH: You don’t ‘prune” your poetry. I have often compared it to a wild jungle of words.

JF: That was an accurate description. I do grow and write like a wild jungle. That’s just my personality and it is reflected in my writing. I never know how long or short a poem is going to be. I never intend to make it short or long.

DH: Do you revise at all?

JF: Sometimes when I am writing a poem I do revisions, but I never go back to it. I don’t think about editing. I think about getting it on paper. I’ve never took a formal class on poetry so everything you see is natural. I never had to control my energy. I am a diamond in the ruff.

DH: Are there any Haitian poets locally of that you admire.

JF: Patrick Sylvain, Danielle Legros Georges, to name just a couple.

DH: There is a strong sense of your ethnic identity in your poems. Do you expect your work will grow more “assimilated” as you go on?

JP: I plan to concentrate on more “spiritual themes” in the future. I don’t want to be stuck in a ghetto of my own ethnic themes. In the past I have been dealing with my multi-ethnic identity. But
in the end I am going to do what comes naturally to me. I want to concentrate more on fiction than poetry. And if it happens to be Haitian-themed so be it. If it is more mainstream than that’s fine too. I will not compromise my work to fit someone else’s category. I am not going to be a mouthpiece for my people; I am going to speak for myself.


we'll dock stones
roll and
we'll unroll
In my america
the big flying eagle
birds well done abroad.
Two groups of people
the rich and the poor
the young and the old
the white and the black
and three tons of fat
all in procession
silent tales are blooming
flowers growing shells
olive branches
climbing white house walls
two candles burning
shades of gray
I trust in god
holy bloody sunday comes
sunday morning
god bless those whose veins
bear none
twilight swallows the moon
soldiers gone awol
run like panthers
here and gone
they've staged a snare
running rivers very dry mouths
Dutiful soldiers beat their drums
paragons of strength and honor
masquerade balls
dinky shoots smack and
the dumb blond flunks
fall down stand up
walk the line
walk backwards
juggling well
will set you free

--Jacques Fleury

Doug Holder

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