Thursday, February 6, 2020
Yanick Lahens, a prominent Haitian writer, is a celebrated author of novels, short stories, and essays for which she has received major literary prizes and international recognition, including the very prestigious Prix Femina, one of France's major literary prizes. The inaugural chair of The Francophone Worlds at the Collège de France, Yanick will speak to Haiti’s rich literary tradition and Haitian exceptionalism, which developed as a result of the Haitian revolution of 1791-1804 and was born out of the successful revolt of enslaved Africans against French colonial rule. Since that historical event, Lahens believes, Haitian writers have felt a sense of urgency to write. She will also examine diverse modes of expression and the place of French and Creole in Haitian writing.
Yanick Lahens was born in Haiti. She completed her primary education there prior to leaving for France where she completed university studies in Modern Literature. She returned to Haiti in 1977. She taught literature at the State University of Haiti and participated in the National Pedagogical Institute’s quest to implement educational reforms which contributed, among other things, to the teaching of Kreyol in the early years of primary school. She hosted a cultural program “Entre nous” on Radio Haiti Inter and published her first articles on Haitian literature and society.
Subsequently, she became a member of the editorial board of the Haitian-Caribbean magazine Critical Pathways, which represented an important moment of reflection in Haiti and the Caribbean. She left university education in 1995 and, after being a member of the cabinet of the Minister of Culture Raoul Peck, she joined the direction of the Slave Route Project which is interested in the issue of slavery through arts and sciences until the project ended in Haiti in 2000. She was a member of the Board of Directors of the International Congress of Francophone Studies and is currently a member of the editorial board of the French-Haitian magazine Conjunction. She recently joined the Board of Trustees of Quisqueya University.
She founded with other writers, the Association of Haitian writers in 1998, and continues to lead seminars on literature.
In 2008 she set up a foundation that supervises youth in social awareness activities. It provides support to associations working to promote reading, set up libraries and organizes cultural events.
In 1990, she published an essay Entre l'ancrage et la fuite, the Haitian writer at Editions Deschamps; In 1994 the collection of short stories, Aunt Resia and the gods at L’Harmattan; the collection of short stories The little Corruption in 1999 with Memory Editions; in 2000, the novel In the house of the father with The Plumed Serpent; in 2005 the collection of short stories, The madness came with the rain at the National Presses; in 2008 The color of dawn with Sabine Wespieser and also Faille in 2010, Guillaume and Nathalie in 2013, Moonbath in 2014 and Douces déroutes in 2018.
In the father's house received the Literature Prize in 2009 at the Leipzig Book Fair; The Color of Dawn, the 2008 Millepages Prize, and also the 2009 RFO Prize, the 2009 Richelieu de la Francophonie Prize, the Reader's Prize of the Vincennes city as part of the America Festival in 2010; Guillaume and Nathalie won the ADELF award in 2013, the 2013 Carbet Award for High School students; and, in 2014 Moonbath received the Femina prize.
Her works have been translated into English, Brazilian, Catalan, Japanese, German, Polish and Italian. Translations are in progress in Norwegian and Spanish.
Yanick Lahens has received, among other honors, recognitions from: the women's organization Kay Fanm for her civic involvement in 2007; from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Organization of La Francophonie in Haiti; by the Haitian Studies Association for the whole of her work; by the cultural association ARAKA.
She was the first woman guest of honor at the Book Fair of Books in Haiti in 2009 and was appointed an officer of France's Arts and Letters in 2009.
Yanick Lahens held the first annual chair in Francophone Worlds at the Collège de France during the year 2018-2019.