Visiting Haitian icon, Franketienne, has been awarded in Queens for his role in raising the profile of Haiti’s literature and culture over the past few decades.
Sosyete Koukouy, a United States based group with a mandate to promote Haitian culture, presented the award to Franketienne during a special gathering at the Central Library in Jamaica last week.
Queens’ Haitian community packed the library’s ground floor to view some of his books and paintings on display after listening to his hour-long presentation on Haitian arts and culture.
Franketienne, based in Haiti, has painted more than 500 abstract paintings, written 15 plays in Haitian Creole and over 60 books in French.
He has credited one of his books, Dezafi, as having a big impact on English Caribbean literature.
“One of my books that influences the most is Dezafi,” declared the 2009 Nobel Prize nominee for Literature.
“It has been very famous, influencing several Caribbean writers. It is this book that has been translated recently into English, but it was published first in Haitian Creole.”
Franketienne’s presentation forms part of activities, which include debates and performances, around the creole speaking world celebrating the creole language during the month of October.
Regarded as a legend, the poet, painter, musician and former school principal continues to deliver about four monthly lectures to colleges and universities throughout Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince.
Franketienne, also a former activist, was visiting Queens as thousands of anti-government protesters in Haiti continue to demand the resignation of president Jovenel Moïse, while blaming him for fuel shortages and worsening inflation.
“The whole problem is the system in Haiti…that has been very oppressive for the last two centuries and only the young people today, if they are conscious…only these people can really change the situation in Haiti,”said the UNESCO artist for peace.
“I am too old to have a solution to that problem.”