Édouard Glissant, Martiniquan poet, novelist, essayist, and thinker, one of the Caribbean’s towering literary figures, died this morning in Paris, at the age of 82.
Described by Le Monde as “the champion of métissage and exchange” — “le chantre du métissage et de l’échange” — Glissant was a major proponent of the Antillanité movement, articulating a unique Caribbean identity created in the collisions of cultural elements from many continents in the matrix of the Antilles. He wrote: “La Caraïbe est une réalité culturelle . . . toujours ouverte sur les autres cultures” — “The Caribbean is a cultural reality . . . always open to other cultures.”
From the hill direction a whole expanse suddenly shoves its cart into dizzying splendour
In the factories’ mill my poverty smiles over powers of the earth
In the cane scars in shins forever black
The water so often called for reddens to my caressing voice
Rebel now from irascible depths of embrace my leap into the standstill.
Like the hougans leafed out in patience
ah the sole evidence I desire is the last voyage of my lassitude among the dry leaves of a monsoon
the flowering of islands the frothy geography of islands on eviscerated seas
our hymns our brows barred from sources our feet crammed with storms . . .
— Édouard Glissant, from “Wild Reading”, trans. Betsy Wing