Jacques Viau Renaud, the resurrected poet


In “Jacques Viau Renaud, le poète ressuscité!,” Ricardo Lambert (Le Nouvelliste) writes about Haitian-Dominican poet Jacques Viau Renaud and the recently published annotated collection of his poems, J’essaie de vous parler de ma patrie, edited by Sophie Maríñez and Daniel Huttinot, with collaborators Amaury Rodríguez and Raj Chetty. [See previous post Book Launch: J’essaie de vous parler de ma patrie: Jacques Viau Renaud.]

More than forty years since his death, this year, Jacques Viau Renaud is the subject of posthumous honors rendered by people who have not been indifferent to his poetry. Poems, reflections, testimonies, tributes: these are the foundations of the book’s contents.

A poet never dies! Poetry transcends cultures as well as time. The work of authors immortalize their memory and allows them to travel through time and space.

It has been more than forty years since the Haitian-Dominican poet Jacques Viau Renaud broke his pipe. Here is his work, finally arisen out of the silence! The birth of such a work is made possible thanks to the tenacity and dedication of people like Sophie Martinez and Daniel Huttinot. Translators also placed their talents at the service of this work, and Georges Castera was part of these efforts.

Viau is one of those citizens who share the dual nationality of this island which was formerly Kiskeya, and which is now divided in two. A very young immigrant to Santo Domingo (seven years old), he adapted without difficulty to his new homeland. This did not prevent him from keeping, deep in his soul, his profound love for Haiti. It was impossible for the author to love only part of the island. In this regard, he wrote:

« J’ai voulu vous parler de ma patrie, de mes deux patries, de mon île / divisée jadis par les hommes / là où ils s’accouplèrent pour créer un fleuve. »

[I wanted to tell you about my homeland, my two homelands, my island, by men once divided, where they coupled to create a river.]

By the 1930s, dictatorships were in full swing in the Caribbean and Central America; a political system consolidated by the U.S. since it quenched its thirst. The Dominican Republic was not exempt. After dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo was assassinated in 1961, the candid hope of the people, Juan Bosch, whose progressive and democratic character was not approved by Washington, was quickly ousted. Marxist and anti-imperialist militant, Jacques Viau joined the forces of the resistance as well as the constitutionalists who opposed the imperialist power of the moment: the United States.

This collection of poems, testimonials, photos, and tributes to Jacques Viau Renaud allows the reader to get to know the committed author as well as the seasoned fighter that he was. Unfortunately, he departed too early. Christian Bobin said, “Poets. They are wonderful when a century has passed, when they are dead, in the earth, and alive in the texts.” Jacques Viau, despite his distressing departure, will remain, forever, alive through the spirit of his works!

[Translated by Ivette Romero. For original article, see https://lenouvelliste.com/article/187606/jacques-viau-renaud-le-poete-ressuscite.]

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