ABOUT THIS BOOK
When the Pipirite Sings gathers poems by the noted Haitian poet, novelist, and neurologist Jean Métellus, who died in January 2014. Along with other signature works, this volume includes the first English translation of Métellus’s visionary epic poem, “Au pipirite chantant” (“When the Pipirite Sings”), widely regarded as his masterpiece.
Translated by formidable comparative literature scholar Haun Saussy, When the Pipirite Sings expresses an acute historical consciousness and engages recurrent Haitian themes—the wrenching impact of colonialism and underdevelopment, the purposes of education, and the merging of spiritual and temporal power. And, as always with Métellus’s poetry, the range of voices and points of view evokes other genres, including fiction and cinema. This eminently readable book has formal and thematic ties to Aimé Césaire’s Notebook of a Return to the Native Land, central to the canon of French-language postcolonial writings.
In addition to many books of poetry, Métellus published novels, chiefly about the remembered Haiti of his youth, and plays about the conquest of the Caribbean. His nonfiction included reflections on Haitian history and politics, on the iconography of slave emancipation, and studies of aphasia and dyslexia.