Depestre Rene 1926 - 0 (-1926)

We have only one recourse in the face of death: make art before it happens.


Caribbean Mother

René Depestre is an Haitian poet, writer and political activist, one of the most important writers in his country. He was born in Jacmel, southern Haiti, on August 29, 1926. When he was ten years old, his father died and he was forced to leave his mother, 2 brothers and 2 sisters and move to live with his grandmother in the capital, Port-au-Prince. There he completed his secondary education in 1944 and the following year, he published his first collection of poetry. Also in 1945, together with three friends, he created a weekly magazine with the aim: "To help Haitians realize their ability to renew the historical foundations of their identity."

In 1946 he took part in the revolutionary student movements that led to the overthrow of the government, however the army seized power, and Depester was first imprisoned and then exiled. He went to France and continued his studies at the Sorbonne from 1946 to 1950. In Paris, he mingled with French surrealist poets and became involved in anti-colonial movements, as a result, he was expelled from all French territory. He left for Prague, from where he was expelled in 1952. He went to Cuba, where he was again expelled by the Batista government. As a marked communist, he was denied entry to France and Italy. He went to Austria, then Chile, Argentina and Brazil. He stayed in Chile for a long time, where he organized together with Neruda, the Continental Congress of Culture. He returned to Haiti in 1956 where he called on Haitians to resist the dictatorial regime and was placed under house arrest. He left for Cuba in 1959 after an invitation of Che Guevaraq he supported the Cuban revolution and helped by working in various fields such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, National Publications, the National Council of Culture and Radio Havana. In the following years he made many trips to the USSR, China, Vietnam, participating in communist conferences and cultural events.

In 1978 he returned to Paris where he worked at UNESCO until 1986. Throughout his life, he has written poems, essays, novels and articles in periodicals such as Esprit and Lettres Francaises. His most famous collection of poems is "A Rainbow for the Christian West", (1967), a mixture of politics, eroticism and magic, themes often found in his works; his most important novel was published in 1988, it is " Hadriana, in All My Dreams", which received many literary awards. In 1986 he retired to the Aude region of France having acquired French citizenship.