When the Pipirite Sings

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 10 Jun 2019

Member Reviews

I love the introduction to this collection of poetry and how it highlighted the pieces in the book and the author's story.  This is a beautiful collection of poetry and I highly recommend it!
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A fascinating poetic vision of Haiti which made me curious about both the poet and the island. I felt the translation was particularly thoughtful. Thankyou for the opportunity to read this collection.
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Great introduction. The writing is beautifully done.  Beautiful book of poetry. I highly recommend it. Thank you for allowing me to read and review this book.
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The authors writing is beautifully done, but I'm willling to admit that I was a bit overwhelmed by some of his descriptions of men, women and his home Haiti. But that might just be me since I'm not much of a poetry reader.
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A collection of poems from Jean Metellus about life in Haiti. Unfortunately most of the poems deal with voodoo and false gods and do not represent the full scope of haitian people as most are Roman Catholics and still some Protestant. A useful tool to teach students about one aspect of haitian culture,
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This is an utterly gorgeous collection that encapsulates a mythic voice, saturated with color and grandeur, directly germane to a Black African aesthetic. The language, the imagery leap off the page and cast spells. 

And what's more refreshing still is to completely fall within such powerful lyricism embedded with so many spiritual and nature elements, divorced from the horrors of the white gaze, from our proximity to white people. We inhabit a world in this collection where there is the raw Caribbean, Africa, and ourselves. 

Métellus is a painter of words who deserves the utmost of praise for his poetic skill.
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I thoroughly enjoyed Jean Metellus book of poetry. The way he illustrated Haiti's history, pain, vigor, botany, and vodou gods was powerful and thought-provoking! My favorite poem was about what the tree had to say- and it had a lot to say to its people. These selected poems are vividly described and full of imagery. Thank you NetGalley for the ARC.
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A wonderful graphic novel that manages to combine a compelling narrative and illustrations to create a wonderful experience for the reader.
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This is the most underrated poetry book I have read recently! Forget all those instagram trendy poems, this poetry booklet is amazing and let you enter the Haitian world with respect and joy! Poems are filled with history, pain, developing, eager for freedom! From the slavery to modernity, the poet delved all those topics with an outstanding poetic touch and it draws readers' mind to wonder what Haitian really like in Haitian people's minds, certainly not "shit holes"! Nowadays, it is so much forgotten because it is not developed like west Europe, yet not fully equipped with buying powers like China, but the poetry showed us how rich and profound this land and its people are! For all poetry lovers, read it!
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This was a beautiful translation - I loved Metellus' use of language. The main work in this collection, “Au pipirite chantant” (“When the Pipirite Sings"), was like a magnificent fever dream: page after page of vivid allusion and imagery of Haiti, its people and botany and culture and climate and history and vaudou gods. It took me days to make my way through it because of its combination of sprawl and density, and the fact that I kept stopping to look up definitions and historical references. The shorter poems were interesting as well, and I enjoyed the introduction and learning about Metellus and mid-20th century Haitian politics and history.
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Vibrant collection, rich in imagery and language, When the Pipirite Sings is a beautiful, as well raw look at life in Haitian life and does not shy away from colonialism.  The verses are lyrical and the longer poems deeply rewarding.

Kudos to the translator at doing such a sterling job bringing the poet's words to life.

Highly recommended.

With thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC.
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This is such a beautiful collection. Although the author only wrote in French and these were translated I must say that the description of the people and the beautiful imagery truly made the collection come alive. 

Métellus is not shy and the collection takes a deep dive into colonial oppression as well as the cultural and spiritual identity of the Haitian people. Although I found some of the pieces hard to get through, the entire work as a whole was very well-written.
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The authors writing is beautifully done, but will admit that I was a bit overwhelmed by some of his descriptions of men, women and his home Haiti. But that might just be me since I'm not much of a poetry reader.  

I do wish the ARC copy I received was better "edited" but given what ARC's can be sometimes...

However, if you are a fan of colorful descriptions and methodically told stories told in poetry verse; then I believe When The Pipirite Sings is a book worth invested in. 

Thank you to the publisher for the opportunity to review.
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Once the French colony of Saint-Domingue, Haiti was home to revered poet and neurologist Jean Métellus; this book opens with When the Piprite Sings, widely known as his masterwork with this being the first time it's been translated from French into English, forty years after it was originally published. Each poem is infused with Haitian culture and Mr Métellus' nostalgia and longing for his homeland which felt sincere and authentic. Saint-Domingue became known as the "Pearl of the Antilles" – one of the wealthiest of France's colonies, producing vast quantities of sugar and coffee and depended on a brutal slave system for the necessary labor. Inspired by the message of the French Revolution, Haitian slaves rose up in revolt in 1791 and after decades of struggle, the independent republic of Haiti was officially proclaimed in 1804. 

This is a moving, raw and heartfelt book of poetry and the scenes described were beautiful and vivid. Mixing past issues of colonialism and slavery with the state of modern-day Haiti was done seamlessly. Despite this adversity and hardship Métellus also covers themes of hope, strength and survival. This is not an easy read by all means and as the poems are so long I can understand those who perhaps lost focus whilst reading, although I didn't have a problem with that myself. Freedom, identity and poverty also feature heavily throughout. Translated by formidable comparative literature scholar Haun Saussy - I thought he did a great job in keeping with the meaning of the prose.

Many thanks to Northwestern University Press.
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When the Pipirite Sings By Haitian poet, novelist, and neurologist Jean Métellus gives us a beautiful glimpse of Haitian culture. 

But, before I move forward with this review let’s just take a minute to admire this stunning cover...just stunning!

Métellus’s collection of poems describe in such vividness the love and longing for his country. This collection is not one to rush through it’s one that should be severed one word at a time. This collection is truly a masterpiece.
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I've been looking forward to reading When The Pipirite Sings for a while, especially because I love the beautiful cover art of this new Northwestern University Press edition. This first English translation of the important Haitian poet Jean Metellus is being published forty years after the original French work. I was surprised it has taken so long! Metellus lived in exile from Haiti from most of his adult life so his poetry is strongly infused with nostalgia and the expatriate's yearning for home - even though that remembered home no longer exists in the same state as it was left.



Most of this book is taken up with the epic When The Pipirite Sings which is named for a colloquial Haitian phrase for daybreak. The little pipirite is usually the first bird to sing in the dawn chorus. Through the poem, Metellus shows us a bewildering mix of Haitian scenes as people begin their days across the island. He blends present-day with slave history, and jumps swiftly from one person's moment to another. I imagined the multitude of voices as being like a pipirite chorus - I couldn't tell where one ended and another began. This did make it difficult for me to appreciate the whole poems and there were several times where I lost the thread for a page or more before I could recognise a specific reference or scene and re-join the work. The poem does begin with an introductory essay which I found useful for my understanding and scattered footnotes helped provide a glossary too. However I think the 'eminently readable' claim made in the synopsis is misleading! Perhaps poetry scholars would find Metellus less of a strain, but I struggled through most of the long poem, only really feeling myself comfortable and fully appreciative of Metellus' poetry when reading the few short poems included at the end of the book.
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The poems in this collection are raw. Jean Metellus is writing about Haiti and his own experiences in a way that brings the reader along. These poems invoke feeling and wonder at the world created by Metellus. I was moved by the details and flow of the stanzas. Although not usually a fan of poetry, I found these easy to read and very enjoyable. His timing and spacing of phrases was ideal for any reader. Job well done.
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I thought this was a very detailed book and poem collection . It gave great insight into the the background and culture . I did find some to be a tad long , so almost losing focal point , but I did enjoy the read as well .
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This book offered a beautiful look into the Haitian culture. The poems were emotionally charged and the mental images were vividly espied

“In the cooing of dawn his lunatic wife, loud with dis-ease, importuned grace Up before day in the shards of a dream Hair loose, anxious nostrils groping at crumbs of life Eyes hungry for signs Ears alert, fearless, gauging the range of silence, exploring the hours...”

Lovely read.
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The poems are culturally rich however, I found them to be long...I lost focus.
I will pick this up again to reread this year
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