Literature Program

Friday, March 25, 2011 at 8:00 p.m.

Just Buffalo Literary Center, Hallwalls, & International Institute present

Edwidge Danticat


Kleinhans Music Hall

Author of the novel Breath, Eyes, Memory

Babel Edwidge Danticat was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on January 19, 1969. When she was two years old, her father André emigrated to New York, to be followed two years later by her mother Rose. This left Edwidge and her younger brother Eliab to be raised by her aunt and uncle. Although her formal education in Haiti was in French, she spoke Haitian Kréyòl at home.

Edwidge Danticat While still in Haiti, Danticat wrote her first short story about a girl who was visited by a clan of women each night. At the age of 12, she moved to Brooklyn to join her parents in a heavily Haitian American neighborhood. As an immigrant teenager, Danticat's accent and upbringing were a source of discomfort for her, so she turned to literature for solace. Two years later she published her first writing, in English, "A Haitian-American Christmas: Cremace and Creole Theatre," in New Youth Connections, a citywide magazine written by teenagers. She later wrote a story about her immigration experience for New Youth Connections, "A New World Full of Strangers." In the introduction to Starting With I, an anthology of stories from the magazine, Danticat wrote, "When I was done with the [immigration] piece, I felt that my story was unfinished, so I wrote a short story, which later became a book, my first novel: Breath, Eyes, Memory ... Writing for New Youth Connections had given me a voice. My silence was destroyed completely, indefinitely."

Breath, Eyes, Memory After graduating from Clara Barton High School in Brooklyn, Danticat entered Barnard College in NYC. Initially she had intended on studying to become a teacher, but her love of writing won out and she received a BA in French literature. In 1993, she earned a MFA in Creative Writing from Brown University—her thesis, entitled "My turn in the fire: an abridged novel," was the basis for her novel Breath, Eyes, Memory, published by Soho Press in 1994. Four years later it became an Oprah's Book Club selection.

Since completing her MFA, Danticat has taught creative writing at both NYU and the University of Miami. She has also worked with filmmakers Patricia Benoit and Jonathan Demme on projects on Haitian art and documentaries about Haiti. Her short stories have appeared in over 25 periodicals and have been anthologized several times. Her work has been translated into numerous other languages including French, Korean, German, Italian, Spanish and Swedish. Danticat is a strong advocate for issues affecting Haitians abroad and at home. In 2009, she lent her voice and words to Poto Mitan: Haitian Women Pillars of the Global Economy, a documentary about the impact of globalizaton on five women from different generations.

Some publications related to this event:
February and March, 2011 - 2011