Newsletter 2006

…Because One Always Remains Someone’s Immigrant

Click here to listen to audio

In March, we welcomed Haitian / Québecois author Marie-Célie Agnant as part of the Center for Ethics program on identity. She attended several French classes to talk about her novels and short stories with the students and culminated her visit with a roundtable discussion for the Muhlenberg community on language and identity.

Agnant’s works include two novels, La Dot de Sara (1995) and Le Livre d'Emma (2001), a collection of short stories, Le Silence comme le sang (1997), and several children’s books.

Her writing deals with the immigrant experience, but incorporates the concept of language as integral part of self and cultural identity. In her talk with Dr. Ketchum’s French students, she talked about writing, declaring that “Writing is like breathing to me. If I don’t write, I die”. This powerful statement was further developed in her talk later that evening:“Writing has always been for me a way of struggling against silence, of making my voice heard, so that the voice could tell me that I exist, that my children and those who look like them are alive. […] There I am at my writing table, a woman, Black woman, from the Third World, dispossessed, deprived, deterritorialized, immigrant (because one always remains someone’s immigrant), but also in the presence of a new reality, that of the present constructed in the ordinary, in the everyday. All these experiences, all these identities, nourish my imagination, sharpen my conscience, and there I am transformed, a sort of archeologist, motivated by the need to understand and wanting to share speech, who takes on several voices, stories often written in the singular, but which at the same time are collective stories.”