first annual afrolatino festival

by Jennifer Celestin

 

Depi le kòmansman

We have been naming ourselves

If we do not name it then it does not exist

Explícame cómo en una familia Haitiano

Podemos tener people with names like

Altagracia, Patricia, Beatrice, Vida

It wasn’t that my grandfather had an affinity for Spanish names

In this same family

We have Jean Phillipe, Pierre-Richard, Sergio

Naming people

Naming things

Naming ethnicities, naming races

Finding traces

Of them

On this tongue

In these hips

In these feet

On this back

In these beats!

These sounds have been germinating

And regenerating

Yon bwason being swirled in a cavernous mouth

Until finally ready for consumption

Tasting the flavors off of the skins and tongues of our grandparents

Their parents, and their parents’ parents

Y tú, ¿de dónde eres? ¿y tus padres? ¿y los padres de tus padres?

Estamos haciendo una historia de los amores de nuestros ancestros

Detallado con el color y el sabor del piel de

Juana, Numa, Ersulia, Leonel

Naming People

Naming Things

Naming Ethnicities

Naming Races

Find Traces

Of them

On this tongue

On these hips

In these feet

On this back

In these beats

Kijan ou rele moun ki ap viv

Along borders?

Living in between culturas

Seeing all the similarities

A palimpsest imaginación

Hearing all of the traces

of the Taínos, Quisqeya, Hola quisqueyano

bearing a closeness to

Ki yes ki la?

Who is there? Always asking for a name

Hearing all of the traces of the

African slaves from the Niger-Congo language fanmi,

Namly Mande and Kwa

Hearing all the traces of

The lisping Spaniards and the heavy tongued,

always on the verge of gagging with their “ers” and “au”

French

And Anglez

Almost left unmentioned

Like whiteness, invisible, a given

But how can it be with all of its sharp angles?

Anglez

I invite you to this multilingual imaginacion

Listen with all you got

Morir-mori, li mo, soft

Death is soft like that too

Travay, trabajo, yo try to tr(y)abajar

The words for work

About trying about

Not reaching but always trying

Nación, national, nació, nací, to be

Born

Cœur

Corazón

The core,

The kò

Of my reasoning

Lies in this one body

One second on one lado

The next el otro

And then again

Laying our bodies

In the L’Artibonite River

And discovering that yes

We can breathe underwater

Porque estamos acquí ahora

Pero not parasiempre

These words are trying

These words have tried

Travaying is our life’s work

Now Afrolatino

Pero luego, but later, pero luego

¿Cual?

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Jennifer Celestin

 

                                                        contributor 2014 first edition

____________________________

Jennifer Celestin is a Haitian-American writer, performer, and facilitator. She has performed at numerous venues in New York City, including the Bowery Poetry Club and Café and La Mama Experimental Theatre. Her poems were included in the City Lore/Haiti Cultural Exchange Anthology of Haitian Poetry. A part of the Hemispheric Institute’s EMERGENYC 2013 fellowship, Jennifer is presently working on a one-woman-show and a novel.