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"Create dangerously, for people who read dangerously. This is what I've always thought it meant to be a writer. Writing, knowing in part that no matter how trivial your words may seem, someday, somewhere, someone may risk his or her life to read them." — Create Dangerously In this deeply personal book, the celebrated Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat reflects on art "Create dangerously, for people who read dangerously. This is what I've always thought it meant to be a writer. Writing, knowing in part that no matter how trivial your words may seem, someday, somewhere, someone may risk his or her life to read them." — Create Dangerously In this deeply personal book, the celebrated Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat reflects on art and exile, examining what it means to be an immigrant artist from a country in crisis. Inspired by Albert Camus' lecture, "Create Dangerously," and combining memoir and essay, Danticat tells the stories of artists, including herself, who create despite, or because of, the horrors that drove them from their homelands and that continue to haunt them. Danticat eulogizes an aunt who guarded her family's homestead in the Haitian countryside, a cousin who died of AIDS while living in Miami as an undocumented alien, and a renowned Haitian radio journalist whose political assassination shocked the world. Danticat writes about the Haitian novelists she first read as a girl at the Brooklyn Public Library, a woman mutilated in a machete attack who became a public witness against torture, and the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat and other artists of Haitian descent. Danticat also suggests that the aftermaths of natural disasters in Haiti and the United States reveal that the countries are not as different as many Americans might like to believe. Create Dangerously is an eloquent and moving expression of Danticat's belief that immigrant artists are obliged to bear witness when their countries of origin are suffering from violence, oppression, poverty, and tragedy.


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"Create dangerously, for people who read dangerously. This is what I've always thought it meant to be a writer. Writing, knowing in part that no matter how trivial your words may seem, someday, somewhere, someone may risk his or her life to read them." — Create Dangerously In this deeply personal book, the celebrated Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat reflects on art "Create dangerously, for people who read dangerously. This is what I've always thought it meant to be a writer. Writing, knowing in part that no matter how trivial your words may seem, someday, somewhere, someone may risk his or her life to read them." — Create Dangerously In this deeply personal book, the celebrated Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat reflects on art and exile, examining what it means to be an immigrant artist from a country in crisis. Inspired by Albert Camus' lecture, "Create Dangerously," and combining memoir and essay, Danticat tells the stories of artists, including herself, who create despite, or because of, the horrors that drove them from their homelands and that continue to haunt them. Danticat eulogizes an aunt who guarded her family's homestead in the Haitian countryside, a cousin who died of AIDS while living in Miami as an undocumented alien, and a renowned Haitian radio journalist whose political assassination shocked the world. Danticat writes about the Haitian novelists she first read as a girl at the Brooklyn Public Library, a woman mutilated in a machete attack who became a public witness against torture, and the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat and other artists of Haitian descent. Danticat also suggests that the aftermaths of natural disasters in Haiti and the United States reveal that the countries are not as different as many Americans might like to believe. Create Dangerously is an eloquent and moving expression of Danticat's belief that immigrant artists are obliged to bear witness when their countries of origin are suffering from violence, oppression, poverty, and tragedy.

30 review for Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work

  1. 4 out of 5

    J.L. Sutton

    Edwidge Danticat's Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work is an engaging collection of essays that takes its cue from Albert Camus' Create Dangerously. Decades earlier, Camus wrote about the challenges and responsibilities of the artist. Danticat takes a personalized approach to this challenge emphasizing Haitian artists, the widespread devastation of the 2010 earthquake centered near Port-au-Prince, voices of the Haitian diaspora as well as Danticat's own experiences moving back and f Edwidge Danticat's Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work is an engaging collection of essays that takes its cue from Albert Camus' Create Dangerously. Decades earlier, Camus wrote about the challenges and responsibilities of the artist. Danticat takes a personalized approach to this challenge emphasizing Haitian artists, the widespread devastation of the 2010 earthquake centered near Port-au-Prince, voices of the Haitian diaspora as well as Danticat's own experiences moving back and forth between cultures since immigrating to the U.S. at age 12. She places herself in a position of privilege and security, a place that is not conspicuously dangerous but still demands that she bears witness. "The immigrant artist shares with all other artists the desire to interpret and possibly remake his or her own world. So though we may not be creating as dangerously as our forebears—though we are not risking torture, beatings, execution, though exile does not threaten us into perpetual silence—still, while we are at work bodies are littering the streets somewhere…." Danticat's debut novel, Breath, Eyes, Memory, (something I've been meaning to reread and review), emphasizes growing up between U.S. and Haitian culture. For me, it somehow echoes in the background of this collection. The writing of Breath, Eyes, Memory is more evocative (it is fiction) than the essay collection, but Creating Dangerously is engaging and offers Danticat's unique insights. 3.75 stars

  2. 5 out of 5

    Leslie Reese

    After meeting Edwidge Danticat in March of this year, I decided that I wanted to read Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work. (A title Danticat borrowed from Albert Camus as the title of her 2008 Toni Morrison Lecture delivered at Princeton University). A book of less than 200 pages, composed of 12 essays/chapters and a “postscript,” this book---published in 2010---is the ninth of Danticat’s published titles. It looks small and unassuming but---trust me---I am still meditating on its c After meeting Edwidge Danticat in March of this year, I decided that I wanted to read Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work. (A title Danticat borrowed from Albert Camus as the title of her 2008 Toni Morrison Lecture delivered at Princeton University). A book of less than 200 pages, composed of 12 essays/chapters and a “postscript,” this book---published in 2010---is the ninth of Danticat’s published titles. It looks small and unassuming but---trust me---I am still meditating on its content, and will be for a while. Most of the pieces exist in other versions published in places like The Progressive, The Nation, and The New Yorker between the years of 2001 and 2011. One piece, entitled “I Am Not A Journalist”---I recognized as having provided some factual content in Danticat’s 2013 novel Claire of the Sea Light. I first thought the book would be about her personal creative journey and processes, but the affect of reading these essays---almost as a whole cloth---casts a more dynamic net than that. In addition to bearing witness to Haiti’s tragedies, and ongoing crises, Danticat also shows us the roles that oral storytelling, filmmaking, radio, and theatre play in contemporary literacy. She also pays homage and introduces us to Haitian writers who have had “to create dangerously” such as Marie Vieux-Chauvet, Jacques Roumain, and Jan J. Dominique. “Writing is nothing like dying in, for, and possibly with, your country.” Some of the things these essays have begun to make me consider include (1) writing and creating as “disobedience” and “revolt against” multiple hungers and forms of suppression; (2) the idea of “people who read dangerously”---that is, people who read at great risk whether that risk might result in something physically brutal or even fatal; as well as readers who are at risk of endangering their current self-image and worldview; (3) reading and writing as acts of critical empathy and compassion that give us opportunities to listen and be heard, as well as draw parallels and recognize patterns in our human experience. What would you consider and celebrate as “reading dangerously”? Is there a writer whose works you have found yourself conversing with over time? (I have posted a lengthier appreciation of Create Dangerously at http://folkloreandliteracy.com/2015/0... if you would like to join the discussion, there!)

  3. 4 out of 5

    Danita

    Inept is the word that immediately comes to mind when trying to "review" this book. Ms. Danticat's words, halting yet fluid, have borne upon me the beginnings of an understanding of a nation and its beleaguered people. I have no mechanism with which to comprehend the physical, political, emotional and spiritual devastation so many have endured, but my mind is now open, reset and forever changed by her deft and daring creation. So many of the questions she asked herself (and others) are questions Inept is the word that immediately comes to mind when trying to "review" this book. Ms. Danticat's words, halting yet fluid, have borne upon me the beginnings of an understanding of a nation and its beleaguered people. I have no mechanism with which to comprehend the physical, political, emotional and spiritual devastation so many have endured, but my mind is now open, reset and forever changed by her deft and daring creation. So many of the questions she asked herself (and others) are questions that too many of us aren't asking ourselves (and others). And we should given the state of affairs in our own countries and those to which we are now indebted/intertwined. For instance, near the end of the Bicentennial chapter: "For is there anything more timely and timeless than a public battle to control one's destiny, a communal crusade for self-determination?" No. There isn't. And while I don't wish to divert any attention from Haiti's hopes and plights (of which I presently know too little), I'm invigorated by her thoughts about artists any- and everywhere creating dangerously, defiantly and fearlessly before, during and after times when our governing institutions "govern" with such blithe indifference. Also, I love how she reveals the duality of being an immigrant artist throughout the book. As both Haitian and American I feel in so many ways that she's perfectly primed to see things about both countries that perhaps neither is capable of acknowledging. In the Another Country chapter in particular she dissects America (in the period immediately following Hurricane Katrina that is still just as relevant now) in such a way that I felt like I was the "amenning lady" waving her white hankie on the first pew in church: "This is the America that continues to startle, the America of the needy and never-have-enoughs, the America of the undocumented, the unemployed and underemployed, the elderly, and the infirm ... Perhaps this America does have more in common with the developing world than with the one it inhabits." Preach.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    I am always a little leery when a favorite writer publishes a collection of essays relying heavily on previously published work. Oftentimes, I am deeply dissatisfied. The material doesn't hold together, and I find that the writer has done disappointingly little work to update the material or to excise repetitions among the essays. This was not the case as I read Edwidge Danticat's new book, Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work. Danticat's collection is surprisingly fresh (almost ever I am always a little leery when a favorite writer publishes a collection of essays relying heavily on previously published work. Oftentimes, I am deeply dissatisfied. The material doesn't hold together, and I find that the writer has done disappointingly little work to update the material or to excise repetitions among the essays. This was not the case as I read Edwidge Danticat's new book, Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work. Danticat's collection is surprisingly fresh (almost every essay reflects on the impact of Haiti's cataclysmic January 12th earthquake), and each piece has been carefully recrafted around the unifying theme of the immigrant artist's privileges and responsibilities. With a consistently strong voice, recognizable as Danticat's in its firm but quiet insistence which is at once compelling in its directness and powerful in its subtlety, Danticat confronts and deconstructs a variety of social and cultural forces that would relegate a country, a people, a socially-constructed race or even herself as either an immigrant writer in the US or as an exiled writer outside of Haiti to the margins. In these essays, she writes forcefully from her position over a wide variety of topics—claiming places for Haitian artists alongside Sophocles, Emerson and Picasso; explicating the root causes of different legacies, despite many similarities, between contemporaneous revolutions in Haiti and the United States; and reemphasizing a missing plurality of voices from Haiti by both giving voice to those who have not been heard, as well as by asserting her right to speak only for herself.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sophfronia Scott

    At first I wasn't sure if this book would speak to me since I'm not an immigrant artist as Danticat describes. But the more I read the more I realized she was not just speaking of writing from a place of danger and displacement. She's talking about the danger of going deep into one's own truth and creating fearlessly from that place. Since that is exactly what I seek to do as a writer I found this book inspiring and challenging. It encourages me to approach my work again and again with diligence At first I wasn't sure if this book would speak to me since I'm not an immigrant artist as Danticat describes. But the more I read the more I realized she was not just speaking of writing from a place of danger and displacement. She's talking about the danger of going deep into one's own truth and creating fearlessly from that place. Since that is exactly what I seek to do as a writer I found this book inspiring and challenging. It encourages me to approach my work again and again with diligence and purpose. I highly recommend it to any artist who hopes to do the same.

  6. 4 out of 5

    LaToya Hankins

    I loved this book because of how she address her experiences as being a Haitian/writer/immigrant and how one identity often feeds another. Her commentary in "The Other Side of the Water" on going home to bury a cousin who she barely knew despite them both living in America and in "Walk Straight" about visiting a great aunt depicts a universal experience of how our family shapes our lives and how you never realize how little time you have with family until they are gone. "Our Guernica" puts a fa I loved this book because of how she address her experiences as being a Haitian/writer/immigrant and how one identity often feeds another. Her commentary in "The Other Side of the Water" on going home to bury a cousin who she barely knew despite them both living in America and in "Walk Straight" about visiting a great aunt depicts a universal experience of how our family shapes our lives and how you never realize how little time you have with family until they are gone. "Our Guernica" puts a face on the Haitian earthquake which destroyed the fragile existence of many of her countryman, in a way that is tragic and hopeful. But the essay that hit home for me was the title essay which starts off the book. It speaks about the craft of writing in a way that caused me to rethink how and why I put words to paper.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ming

    "And during this final conversation, I am even more certain that to create dangerously is also to create fearlessly, boldly embracing the public and private terrors that would silence us, then bravely moving forward even when it feels as thought we are chasing or being chased by ghosts... Creating fearlessly, like living fearlessly, even when a great tempest is upon you. Creating fearlessly even when cast lot bo dlo, across the seas. Creating fearlessly for people who see/watch/listen/read fearl "And during this final conversation, I am even more certain that to create dangerously is also to create fearlessly, boldly embracing the public and private terrors that would silence us, then bravely moving forward even when it feels as thought we are chasing or being chased by ghosts... Creating fearlessly, like living fearlessly, even when a great tempest is upon you. Creating fearlessly even when cast lot bo dlo, across the seas. Creating fearlessly for people who see/watch/listen/read fearlessly. Writing fearlessly because, as my friend Junot Diaz has said, 'a writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, keep writing anyway.' This is perhaps also what it means to be a writer. Writing as thought nothing can or will ever stop you. Writing as though you full-heartedly, or foolheartedly, believe in acheiropoietos."

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jerry Pogan

    For several years there have been three writers who I considered my favorites, Sebastian Barry, Czeslaw Milosz and Anatole France. But in the last couple of years there are three young women who I now include in that group, Jesmyn Ward, Madeleine Thien and now Edwidge Danticat. I only discovered Danticat about 6 months ago when I read Krik! Krak! and I've been reading everything I can find of hers since. Each time I read one of her books I'm more and more impressed. This book of essays is absolu For several years there have been three writers who I considered my favorites, Sebastian Barry, Czeslaw Milosz and Anatole France. But in the last couple of years there are three young women who I now include in that group, Jesmyn Ward, Madeleine Thien and now Edwidge Danticat. I only discovered Danticat about 6 months ago when I read Krik! Krak! and I've been reading everything I can find of hers since. Each time I read one of her books I'm more and more impressed. This book of essays is absolutely amazing! I was going to pick out my favorite essays in the book but as I went through the titles I realized that one was just as good as another, but if I had to pick one I'll go with Walk Straight. It was magnificent and very personal to Danticat as were several of the others. Many of the essays were based around the cruel dictatorship of Duvalier and of the people who suffered under him. As difficult as the subject matter was in some of the essays Danticat's magnificent prose made them quite inspirational. An outstanding book!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Justine Dymond

    I just started Danticat's new book, and I wanted to read aloud the first chapter through a loudspeaker in a van driving through the streets, like in the old-fashioned way politicians used to advertise their candidacies. I realize, though, that shouting it might not meet the spirit of her first chapter....but I think you get my point: everyone should read it. But, again, such a dictatorial mode would be antithetical to Danticat's message. And around and around I go.... The only problem with her bo I just started Danticat's new book, and I wanted to read aloud the first chapter through a loudspeaker in a van driving through the streets, like in the old-fashioned way politicians used to advertise their candidacies. I realize, though, that shouting it might not meet the spirit of her first chapter....but I think you get my point: everyone should read it. But, again, such a dictatorial mode would be antithetical to Danticat's message. And around and around I go.... The only problem with her book so far is that her literary references keep adding to my list of "to-reads"!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    This collection of essays is as delicate as it is powerful. Danticat has a sophisticated intelligence and a complete passion for her homeland. We do not have much in terms of glimpses into the troubled past and beautiful traditions of Haiti; Danticat's is a voice that crosses the water, that bridges the diasporic space between countries. This collection of essays is as delicate as it is powerful. Danticat has a sophisticated intelligence and a complete passion for her homeland. We do not have much in terms of glimpses into the troubled past and beautiful traditions of Haiti; Danticat's is a voice that crosses the water, that bridges the diasporic space between countries.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Shirleen R

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Completed reading Sept. 23, 2017 -- More thoughts to come. _______________________________ Early impression, reading continues : Wed. Sept. 2017 : Currently Reading: Edwidge Danticat, Create Dangerously: the immigrant artist at work . (2010) The question that thrusts this book is "What can the artist do?" .What can Danticat do in Haiti, the country of her birth, when political strife, poverty, and natural disasters occur. How can Danticat do anything, when she hasn’t lived in the country since age Completed reading Sept. 23, 2017 -- More thoughts to come. _______________________________ Early impression, reading continues : Wed. Sept. 2017 : Currently Reading: Edwidge Danticat, Create Dangerously: the immigrant artist at work . (2010) The question that thrusts this book is "What can the artist do?" .What can Danticat do in Haiti, the country of her birth, when political strife, poverty, and natural disasters occur. How can Danticat do anything, when she hasn’t lived in the country since age 12. Each chapter is set in a troubled era in which she lived, or a historical event in Haiti she reconstructs via art in that time. For examples: Haiti's 2006 earthquake, DuValier era when tonton macoutes , terrorized tortured everyday Haitians in the countryside, farmers, families, herdes, anyone targeted based on flimsy rumors they were part of the resistance. Or the time Papa Doc Duvalier ordered assassination of two Haitian writers - Marcel Numa and Louis Drouin”. Duvalier labeled them “outsiders” and branded their relatives ‘traitors”, because the two traveled and workedin the U.S., out of economic necessity. On execution day, Papa Doc Duvalier shut down schools; then , he ordered all Haitians to witness a firing squad murder them in a public square. (Why don't I know this history?) What can the artist do? Edwidge Danticat acknowledges her vulnerabilities, guilt, good intentions while at a loss about where to start because she's been "gone away". She is both insider (born there), and outsider, NYU and Brown trained, Oprah Book Club acclaim, etc. She is lives in material comforts while her grandmother Tante Ilyana resides on a mountainous hilltop. Ilyana guards the family cemetery plot, and insists on a home that requires a day of walking uphill to reach. I value how Danticat lacks pretensions, her insightful writing knife is not dull. I am foolish to to not read with vigilance. For example, Edwidge Danticat describes a child rescued from earthquake rubble in plain language. Danticat’s writes in quiet prose, but then, she’ll close the sentence with a detail that guts me. For example: Danticat reports a shy Haitian child survived, but did not talk. She sees a ‘gash’ on the girl’s forehead. the concrete split her scalp open”. Before Danticat walks away, she adds the closing phrase: the gash is where school concrete fell on the 10 yr old’s head and split. her scalp open. Her honesty does not shield readers or allow the distance to pretend a happy endings awaits Haiti. Each time Instead, she pierces my reading, and reminds me not to be passive or asleep while I learn Haiti’s heartbreak (6,000 died?). Here’s a Haitian survivor, Alerte Berlance in the chapter “I Speak Out”. Duvalier’s country militiamen sliced Alerte’s tongue in half, hacked off her arm with a machete, then, tossed her into a mass grave to die. Danticat won’t allow an American primed on U.S. heroic myths. She won’t jump the Berlance’s recovery years, acknowledging only triumphant benchmarks -- speaking tours, a Phil Donahue Show talk show appearance. Danticat insists readers see the “the before” too. And “the during”. I infer her message: “Wake the f*ck up. Don’t consume natural disaster horrors as if Haitian suffering is your devastation porn, tourist!” In the “I Am Not a Journalist” chapter, the author describes the 1994 course "History of Haitian Cinema" at Ramapo College (NJ), which she co-taught with Hollywood filmmaker Jonathan Demme and Haitian radio journalist and filmmaker Jean Dominique. She and the reader shift our perspective about why Cinema matters -- Dominique explains that in a country where illiteracy was around 51 %, Haitian films,painting, and the visual arts ARE the vehicle to disseminate then discuss political strategies to survive, and overthrow Father and Son DuValier governments. Radio and community theater is valuable as well for that reader. In this way words such as "resistance" do not sound as empty as when I use them at U.S. protests. Danticat writes in clear, straightforward prose. I'm learning about Haitian culture in its own right, and not just what happens to Haiti.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Cara Byrne

    "Perhaps this America does have more in common with the developing world than with the one it inhabits. For the poor and outcast everywhere dwell within their own country, where more often than not they must fend for themselves. That's why one can so easily become a refugee within one's own borders - because one's perceived usefulness and precarious citizenship are always in question, whether in Haiti or in that other America, the one where people have no flood insurance" (111). It took me month "Perhaps this America does have more in common with the developing world than with the one it inhabits. For the poor and outcast everywhere dwell within their own country, where more often than not they must fend for themselves. That's why one can so easily become a refugee within one's own borders - because one's perceived usefulness and precarious citizenship are always in question, whether in Haiti or in that other America, the one where people have no flood insurance" (111). It took me months to finish this book, not because the prose is dense or the content uninteresting, but rather because Danticat writes with such vulnerability, wisdom, and skill that as she is exploring her heartbreaking familial history and sharing her views of the world, it's difficult not to put the book down to spend some time mulling over her ideas. I will readily recommend this title to many and am trying to figure out how to add it to future sections of my narratives of immigration courses.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Arelis Uribe

    Awesome, incredibly well written.

  14. 5 out of 5

    BookChampions

    I did not intend to read this book of essays so fast. I started it, thinking I'd read a couple essays here and there, maybe one before bed, but alas, I was engrossed. Danticat is not a historian or even a editorialist, yet I learned so much about Haiti and what it means to be a Haitian immigrant in the 21st century from her book. I probably would not have been as interested as I ended up being had I not already read most of Danticat's fiction. For fans of her novels and stories, this book is not I did not intend to read this book of essays so fast. I started it, thinking I'd read a couple essays here and there, maybe one before bed, but alas, I was engrossed. Danticat is not a historian or even a editorialist, yet I learned so much about Haiti and what it means to be a Haitian immigrant in the 21st century from her book. I probably would not have been as interested as I ended up being had I not already read most of Danticat's fiction. For fans of her novels and stories, this book is nothing short of essential. I feel like I understand much better the place from which Danticat births her novels, and for that the novels move even closer to my heart. These essays, which nearly all appeared elsewhere in a similar form but are so seamlessly strung together in this volume that most will not even know it, also have something to offer those of us who appreciate why artists work—especially in light of a country's great pain and suffering. I would certainly place it alongside Moments of Being (Virginia Woolf) and In Search of My Mother's Gardens (Alice Walker) as nonfiction treatises on writing and a writer's dedication to her craft. It's truly shocking what great inhumanity the people of Haiti have experienced, but Danticat reminds us not to pity the survivors but feel linked to them, to respect their journey, and do our part to champion (and maybe even make) art/language/writing that dares to be dangerous. She certainly places herself not as an authority or expert, but someone else on her own journey, and I really appreciate that. For me, though, this book is an important reminder as a teacher, a poet and coach, as a Unitarian Buddhist, and a reader. Create dangerously. Read dangerously. Create spaces for both!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Les

    I thought this would serve as a unique writing muse or motivator and I also thought it would stem from a perspective accounting of varied immigrant viewpoints of multiple nationalities. It proved to be neither. Well-written, often beautiful and composed with a crispness that transports you, this is almost solely autobiographical and thus almost exclusively focused on Haiti and her perspective. So it was a letdown for me due to too casual a review of the back cover description, though it appeals I thought this would serve as a unique writing muse or motivator and I also thought it would stem from a perspective accounting of varied immigrant viewpoints of multiple nationalities. It proved to be neither. Well-written, often beautiful and composed with a crispness that transports you, this is almost solely autobiographical and thus almost exclusively focused on Haiti and her perspective. So it was a letdown for me due to too casual a review of the back cover description, though it appeals to the universal often enough. The best essay for me was the first one, though nearly all are powerful and intriguing. Also, the first essay has a kind of corresponding bookend essay that concludes the collection. This was my second genuine try with Danticat and better than the first but still not what I was after. But she's such an eloquent writer and a great storyteller, so I'll give her another go in a while, which I'm sure will be to my benefit. Decent to good read for me, but could have been a great read if my expectations were more on target.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Iman

    “If we began to put plaques all over Port-au-Prince to commemorate deaths,” a friend had once told me when I’d pointed this out to him, “we would have room for little else.” --- “In the tent clinic I say hello to Monica. She looks up at me and blinks but otherwise does not react. Her eyes are dimmed and it appears that she may still be in shock. To watch your house and neighborhood, your city, crumble, then to watch your father die, and then nearly to die yourself, all before your tenth birthday, “If we began to put plaques all over Port-au-Prince to commemorate deaths,” a friend had once told me when I’d pointed this out to him, “we would have room for little else.” --- “In the tent clinic I say hello to Monica. She looks up at me and blinks but otherwise does not react. Her eyes are dimmed and it appears that she may still be in shock. To watch your house and neighborhood, your city, crumble, then to watch your father die, and then nearly to die yourself, all before your tenth birthday, seems like an insurmountable obstacle for any child.” --- “Growing up in the shadow of that rebellion, the narrator’s father will never truly know a free and sovereign life, having had not just his country but also his imagination invaded as a small boy when his parents used the presence of U.S. marines to frighten him into drinking his milk.”

  17. 5 out of 5

    Stacie

    Create Dangerously is personal, philosophical and vivid. Edwidge Danticat explores the role of the immigrant writer through touching stories of her Haitian family and friends. As with any collection, some of the essays are more captivating than others. I was particularly drawn to her accounts about journalist and icon Jean Dominique, 9/11, artist Jean-Michel Basquiat and her powerful essay about visiting Haiti weeks after the earthquake hit in 2010. Her tales give the reader a sense of her respo Create Dangerously is personal, philosophical and vivid. Edwidge Danticat explores the role of the immigrant writer through touching stories of her Haitian family and friends. As with any collection, some of the essays are more captivating than others. I was particularly drawn to her accounts about journalist and icon Jean Dominique, 9/11, artist Jean-Michel Basquiat and her powerful essay about visiting Haiti weeks after the earthquake hit in 2010. Her tales give the reader a sense of her responsibility to her family, and all of the people of Haiti, to be their voice and share their stories. She also makes the case that we're not all so different as some may think, especially in the face of terrifying disasters.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Zoe Xiuha

    Danticat's prose is beautiful, seamlessly weaving together personal narratives with historical ones, along with familial stories that fall somewhere in between the private and the public memory. The overall collection is thoughtfully curated so one essay flows easily into the next, each building off and evoking themes/memories of the previous pieces. As a reader I was often humbled by the international, intergenerational web of context Danticat develops throughout the collection, and was deeply Danticat's prose is beautiful, seamlessly weaving together personal narratives with historical ones, along with familial stories that fall somewhere in between the private and the public memory. The overall collection is thoughtfully curated so one essay flows easily into the next, each building off and evoking themes/memories of the previous pieces. As a reader I was often humbled by the international, intergenerational web of context Danticat develops throughout the collection, and was deeply moved by her simultaneous love and fear of the looming themes of homeland, exile, and life/death. Definitely a series worth reading for 1st/2nd generation immigrants and artists of any medium struggling to reconcile the personal present with collective history.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    Edwidge Danticat's essays are pieces of writing I am sure I will go back to again and again. The subtitle of the book "Immigrant Artist at Work" is the theme that runs throughout. Danticat describes the choice of a Haitian artist to reflect the misery of their homeland, and later the beauty, the repression of writers, and what it means to be a writer in a country where fewer than half the population are literate. Danticat's title "create dangerously" comes from Camus, and she refers throughout h Edwidge Danticat's essays are pieces of writing I am sure I will go back to again and again. The subtitle of the book "Immigrant Artist at Work" is the theme that runs throughout. Danticat describes the choice of a Haitian artist to reflect the misery of their homeland, and later the beauty, the repression of writers, and what it means to be a writer in a country where fewer than half the population are literate. Danticat's title "create dangerously" comes from Camus, and she refers throughout her essays to other artists such as Roland Barth, Jean-Michel Basquiat, whose father was Haitian, whose work I will definitely follow up on.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Breena

    This is an important book for writers especially to read. If you care anything about what you do as an artist -- how you represent, you will appreciate this collection of Danticat's essays. It is a smooth, engaging read. This is an important book for writers especially to read. If you care anything about what you do as an artist -- how you represent, you will appreciate this collection of Danticat's essays. It is a smooth, engaging read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Fiercely intelligent and achingly beautiful. -------------- Once again, my local librarian has anticipated my reading urges before I am even aware of them...I applaud her book buying sensibility.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rianna Jade

    I'll gladly return to this again and again. I'll gladly return to this again and again.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tanya

    Excellent collection of essays about art, responsibility, repression, and justice.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rashaan

    Architecture is supposed to solve problems, and the 16th century Italian architect Andrea Palladio was bent on problem-solving. Harmony was the foundation to his structures. He insisted houses not be built around stagnant water. This design wasn't simply for aesthetic purposes but turned out to be incredibly practical and hygienic as well. Architecture is not only a source of spatial poetry but, in this sense, the discipline saves lives as well. Literature for better or worse, doesn't quite work Architecture is supposed to solve problems, and the 16th century Italian architect Andrea Palladio was bent on problem-solving. Harmony was the foundation to his structures. He insisted houses not be built around stagnant water. This design wasn't simply for aesthetic purposes but turned out to be incredibly practical and hygienic as well. Architecture is not only a source of spatial poetry but, in this sense, the discipline saves lives as well. Literature for better or worse, doesn't quite work the same way. Words can't elevate people physically from unhealthy, mosquito-infested water, and novels or poetry can't be retrofitted to withstand earthquakes. Words will never house a family or shelter them from mudslides. Edwidge Danticat in her non-fiction work, part of the Toni Morrison Lecture Series, Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work knows all too well how little words can aid in the face of her country's history. This past semester my English 5: Argument & Research students were assigned this text, which complemented the theme of the class "Citizens of the World" focusing on globalisation, cosmopolitanism, international travel, and social justice. From the start of the book, Danticat pushes into the thick of Haiti's past: On November 12, 1964, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, a huge crowd gathered to witness an execution. The President of Haiti at that time was the dictator Francios "Papa Doc" Duvalier, who was seven years to what would be a fifteen year term. On the day of the execution, he decreed that government offices be closed so that hundreds of state employees could be in the crowd. Schools were shut down and principals ordered to bring their students. Hundreds of people from outside the capital were bused in to watch. The two men to be executed were Marcel Numa and Louis Drouin Here begins Danticat's creation story as a writer, an immigrant, and by default a reluctant activist though she probably wouldn't agree with the last title. Both Drouin and Numa were highly educated friends who moved to New York "when Duvalier came to power" and then returned home to join the group Jeune Haiti, which waged guerilla warfare in the hopes to end Duvalier's dictatorship. These two men have haunted Danticat's memory since she can remember, and she compares them to the Biblical exile of Adam and Eve. For Danticat they represent the story of her country, her people, and her task as a writer. She writes, "Like most creation myths, this one exists beyond the scope of my own life, yet it still feels present, even urgent. Marcel Numa and Louis Drouin were patriots who died so that other Haitians could live. They were also immigrants, like me." Critics have called Danticat's work an attempt to wrestle with survivor's guilt, and though she may feel culpable for the physical and emotional distance that keeps her relatively safe in New York, which she now calls home, she still claims the power she has as a correspondent who must shuttle between two very different worlds. Danticat explains the title of her work, "There are many possible interpretations of what it means to create dangerously, and Albert Camus, like the poet Osip Mandelstam, suggests that it is creating as a revolt against silence, creating when both the creation and the reception, the writing and the reading, are dangerous undertakings, disobedience to a directive." Since the recent Haiti earthquake, Danticat has been asked countless times to speak about her country and to serve as "spokeswoman" for "her people." And of course, she is uneasy with this, knowing how hungry the West is to hear about Haiti. She is also wary that Haiti may not accept her as their ambassador. Too many writers of color find themselves in this position, but the issue is compounded when the country has been devastated by a brutal dictatorship and disaster. The urgency is palpable, and this type of ambassadorial work, for Danticat, brings to light the constant wrestling she must deal with as a creator and correspondent, two roles she does not take lightly. Danticat firmly believes that readership is citizenship, and she scrutinizes the relationship between author and reader because, where she comes from, lives hang in the balance, at the threshold of creation and reception. She covers the dictatorships of Duvalier and his son Jean Claude, as well as the exile of Aristed. She writes of visiting her grandmother who lives in the mountains of Haiti, where visiting her requires a full day of hiking through rugged landscape. After the January 12, 2010 earthquake, the distance between Port-au-Prince and rural areas throughout Haiti became impossible to traverse. Danticat introduces us to diverse Haitians, who are loved, misunderstood, revered, estranged, exiled, and feared: the deportee, the survivor, the artist, the journalist, the writer, the filmmaker, the martyr, the police officer, the soldier, and the immigrant. None of the stories she shares, not the snippets of lives she reports on, are easy to handle. They are as jagged and piercing as the soul survivors who have lived to tell their tale, and Danticat's writing is as dark and terrible as the lives who didn't make it to the light. Despite the violence she reveals, from the executions to the brutal account of a wife and mother who survived being raped and hacked alive by Duvalier's hired henchman, the Tonton Macoutes, my students read this work without flinching, and every single one of them came to class genuinely engaged, concerned, and outraged that these stories weren't covered in the mainstream news. They loved Danticat's work and took to home all the horrors and truth-telling. Danticat writes to remember and claim all the pieces of the past, not just the proud memories but the awful facts, as well. She knows that these stories are owned by everyone, immigrant, native, migrant, writer, dictator, freedom fighter, and reader. Create Dangerously is an elegy to a Haiti that no longer exists except in memory. It is also a prayer for the future, connecting us across oceans, reanimating decades past, and keeping safe remembrances for tomorrow. These narratives compose her worldview, and she warns her readers, Haitians and Americans not to become cultural amnesiacs. We must own our history and culture, all the ugly horrors and the shining bravery. Reader and writer, immigrant and native, artist and audience, we must all stand behind our strengths and weaknesses. In addition to reading and writing about the text, the students were assigned to watch interviews with Danticat on UC Television as well as a TED Talk To orient them, I also included links on our class Moodle site that outlined a country profile from the BBC of Haiti as well as a BBC timeline of Haiti's history Some of the freewrites prompted by this text: What is your creation myth? What's the story of your culture and people? What images that keep coming back to you from your childhood? From your adolescence? Pick one image and try to get on paper as many details as possible. What does citizenship mean to you? How do you claim your culture? Your history?

  25. 5 out of 5

    Andres Eguiguren

    Danticat was one of three Haitian writers recommended by The New York Times after Trump's disparaging words about this Caribbean island-nation earlier this month (January 2018). I am glad I looker her up, as I realized that the only other reading I had done about Haiti was Graham Greene's The Comedians, which I read more than 30 years ago, and one of the chapters in Jared Diamond's Collapse. Danticat moved to the U.S. at the age of 12, the same age I was when I moved there, so her words on the im Danticat was one of three Haitian writers recommended by The New York Times after Trump's disparaging words about this Caribbean island-nation earlier this month (January 2018). I am glad I looker her up, as I realized that the only other reading I had done about Haiti was Graham Greene's The Comedians, which I read more than 30 years ago, and one of the chapters in Jared Diamond's Collapse. Danticat moved to the U.S. at the age of 12, the same age I was when I moved there, so her words on the immigrant experience resonated with me. In addition to introducing me to a number of Haitian authors, journalists, and artists, her essays make references to the likes of Albert Camus, Toni Morrison, Alejo Carpentier, Wole Soyinka, Ralph Ellison, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Isabel Allende, Junot Diaz, Susan Sontag, Roland Barthes, and many many others. If you generally enjoy essays that can mix politics and social consciousness with a good dose of culture, history, and the arts, I would certainly recommend this book. My favourite chapter/essay was the title one. "Create dangerously," writes Danticat, "for people who read dangerously. This is what I've always thought it meant to be a writer. Writing, knowing in part that no matter how trivial your words may seem, someday, somewhere, someone may risk his or her life to read them."

  26. 4 out of 5

    Graham Wilhauk

    This was fantastic. Despite there being about two or three chapters that were just "ok," this book gave some of the most thought-provoking commentary I've come across in a WHILE. I've learned SO much in this book as I annotated the entire thing and made notes. At the university I'm attending, the University of Kansas (Rock Chalk!), this is the common book that the incoming freshman are reading and discussing the first few days on campus. After reading this book and learning SOOOOOOOO much about This was fantastic. Despite there being about two or three chapters that were just "ok," this book gave some of the most thought-provoking commentary I've come across in a WHILE. I've learned SO much in this book as I annotated the entire thing and made notes. At the university I'm attending, the University of Kansas (Rock Chalk!), this is the common book that the incoming freshman are reading and discussing the first few days on campus. After reading this book and learning SOOOOOOOO much about Haiti and the history of the second independent nation in the western hemisphere, I am set to have a lot of discussions! Edwidge Danticat's writing is stellar, the topics she discusses are hard-hitting, and the narratives she tells us about are fascinating and devastating at the same time. This truly is a FANTASTIC book that fuses memoir and essay in order to create an honest portrait of a nation and its people. I am giving this one a 4 out of 5 stars.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Li Yen

    Edwidge Danticat's beautiful writing showed me the danger of using one's own voice to speak up and stand in solidarity with our cultural past and present struggles, and then doing it anyway. Her reflections as a daughter of two kingdoms; one of biological heritage and the other of adopted nationality run through the common thread of identity and belonging, compelling readers to engage the immigrant artist's perspective and the importance of their work in the midst of natural disasters, coup d'et Edwidge Danticat's beautiful writing showed me the danger of using one's own voice to speak up and stand in solidarity with our cultural past and present struggles, and then doing it anyway. Her reflections as a daughter of two kingdoms; one of biological heritage and the other of adopted nationality run through the common thread of identity and belonging, compelling readers to engage the immigrant artist's perspective and the importance of their work in the midst of natural disasters, coup d'etat and personal losses. Praise to Danticat for paying witness to the ghosts and heroes of remembering and retelling, so others may have a chance at existing to follow suit.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    It was an excellent read. I’m very glad I read it. It’s a collection of pieces meditating on Haiti, the artist’s life, and the people she knows. There are many, many thoughtful words on the power of storytelling that makes one think of how you tell a story. Her writing invites you into the experience of life and death in real ways in the world - in places we are often too frightened or too unaware to go. Through her storytelling she makes one see a whole new world. I’m very grateful for this boo It was an excellent read. I’m very glad I read it. It’s a collection of pieces meditating on Haiti, the artist’s life, and the people she knows. There are many, many thoughtful words on the power of storytelling that makes one think of how you tell a story. Her writing invites you into the experience of life and death in real ways in the world - in places we are often too frightened or too unaware to go. Through her storytelling she makes one see a whole new world. I’m very grateful for this book.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Reba

    This was a fascinating blend of memoir and social commentary, as well as a love song to Haiti, and the U.S. I am a big fan of Danticat's writing, and read this in preparation to hear her speak this upcoming Tuesday. Book Club field trip! I am super excited. Back to the book, Create Dangerously helped me understand more about Haiti as a country, and I am so appreciative for the glimpse into the richness of the land, people, and culture. This was a fascinating blend of memoir and social commentary, as well as a love song to Haiti, and the U.S. I am a big fan of Danticat's writing, and read this in preparation to hear her speak this upcoming Tuesday. Book Club field trip! I am super excited. Back to the book, Create Dangerously helped me understand more about Haiti as a country, and I am so appreciative for the glimpse into the richness of the land, people, and culture.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    This is a well written history of the evil regime of Papa Doc Duvalier detailing much terror and numerous executions along with describing the tragic events following the devastating earthquake of 2010. Edwidge also describes the colorful art, music and culture of her native land and some of its interesting artistic inhabitants. She emigrated to New York City but returned to Haiti on numerous occasions to visit family and friends. I would recommend this book to anyone wishing to learn more about This is a well written history of the evil regime of Papa Doc Duvalier detailing much terror and numerous executions along with describing the tragic events following the devastating earthquake of 2010. Edwidge also describes the colorful art, music and culture of her native land and some of its interesting artistic inhabitants. She emigrated to New York City but returned to Haiti on numerous occasions to visit family and friends. I would recommend this book to anyone wishing to learn more about Haiti, its resilient people and the beauty of this country despite its many tragic moments.

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