Frank Etienne

Frank Etienne

Frankétienne: poet, dramaturge, and teacher, Haiti (b. 1936, Ravine Sèche) Frankétienne is a poet, novelist and dramatist who has played a major role in the generation of contemporary culture within the complex environment of Haiti. By foregrounding local forms of expression, he stimulated new and relevant approaches to the arts. Taking considerable political and aesthetic risks, in 1975 he wrote ‘Dézafi’, an allegory about political oppression under the brutal regime of Papa Doc. The book focuses on the predicament of the masses rather than individual characters, and was the first novel written in Haitian Creole. Through its publication, Frankétienne transformed the oral language into a literary language. To strengthen the popular appeal of his writings, Frankétienne used both standard Creole and local vernaculars, demonstrating new possibilities for Caribbean discourse and for direct and authentic local expression. His more than 30 published titles, writings and dramas, including ‘Ultravocal’ (1972), ‘Kaselezo’ (1985), ‘L’Oiseau Schizophone’ (1993) and ‘H’Eros Chimères’ (2002), are without precedent. These works place him at the centre of study and debate on Creolity in its linguistic, aesthetic, political and social dimensions. Despite the difficulties in Haiti during his lifetime, Frankétienne has refused to leave his homeland and each of his works is profoundly anchored in contemporary Haitian history and context. Highlighting Haitian forms of expression he has created a living source of contemporary aesthetics in Haiti. A teacher, performer, artist, musician, comedian and popular public intellectual, he is considered the ‘national consciousness’ and is one of the most important figures in the country’s cultural history.