Monthly Archives: April 2015

Summary en français of my public talk in Rivière-Salée

I have received the following write-up of the talk I gave at Rivière-Salée’s Centre Culturel last week, and with the kind permission of the author, who is an MA student at the University of the Antilles, I have reprocuced it below.

It was a pleasure and a privilege to share my work on Rivière-Salée’s most famous author in his place of birth.

Thank you for this summary, Françoise, I am delighted you enjoyed my talk!

Bonne lecture!

J’ai assisté ce mercredi 22 avril à une conférence sur Joseph Zobel, dans son fief natal, à l’occasion du centenaire de la naissance d’un « petit nègre de Petit-Bourg » dont le génie littéraire a été traduit dans le monde entier. C’était un avant-gardiste de la Négritude et de la Créolité, et il a trouvé en Louise Hardwick, enseignante-chercheur à l’université de Birmingham, en Angleterre, une grande spécialiste de son œuvre.

Zobel, Césaire, Fanon et Glissant ont été de grands hommes dont les écrits représentent une richesse étonnante de la culture antillaise et ont permis de faire rayonner la Martinique à l’étranger. Si Aimé Césaire est le plus connu, son ami, Joseph Zobel a une place de choix dans le cœur des Martiniquais, et plus particulièrement des Saléens.

C’était très impressionnant de rencontrer « une étrangère » venir parler avec autant de fascination et de passion d’un “enfant du pays” à travers la littérature qu’il a léguée aux générations suivantes. Louise Hardwick prépare un ouvrage sur cet écrivain majeur afin de faire découvrir au plus grand nombre la portée de l’œuvre d’un génie né il y a cent ans, sur les terres salées.

Ce qui fut enrichissant, c’est sa réflexion “écocritique” sur la relation de Zobel avec la terre (jardin créole et morne). Cette enseignante-chercheur de passage sur l’île jusqu’au 29 avril vaut la peine d’être écoutée. Sa maîtrise du français est remarquable.


Amicalement, Françoise DUVAL

Etudiante en Maîtrise à l’Université des Antilles 


This week – launch of the Year of Zobel in Martinique

I am honoured that Rivière-Salée invited me to give the opening talk for the Year of Zobel.

Thank you to all who attended the Centre culturel in Rivière-Salée on 22 April!

My talk was in French, and was called “Joseph Zobel, le romancier de la Négritude”? I was delighted to be able to answer so many questions from the audience afterwards – thank you for this enthusiastic exchange!

And today it was a pleasure to speak at the Collège Georges Elisabeth during their “Hommage à Joseph Zobel” – congratulations to all the pupils who took part, and to all those who attended!

But it’s not over… If you are near a TV in Martinique tonight I’ll be speaking about Zobel on ATV for the programme “3 Questions à”…(3 Questions for…) and then on Zouk TV for a special episode on Zobel.

Follow updates on Twitter @Zobelproject

Bonsoir from Madinina!

A quick post as I don’t have regular email access – the centenary events in Martinique to mark Joseph Zobel’s birth have got off to a wonderful start!

On Friday, I was invited by the Mayor of Rivière-Salée, André Lesueur, to attend the opening ceremony in Riviere-Salee. It was a moving tribute with live music from a conch shell orchestra and readings from Zobel’s work, particularly Laghia de la mort, accompanied by a tambour drummer. This really brought the story to life! Monsieur Lesueur gave an excellent opening speech which really encouraged everyone to read and appreciate Joseph Zobel. This was followed by two videos, one recreating the lives of cane workers from the petite-bandes to the contremaitre, which succeeded in mixing humour and poignant reflections on what life was like ‘an tan lontan’. The second video was recorded by Jenny Zobel who, unable to attend in person for professional reasons, gave a warm and sincere address to the Saléens assembled in memory of her father.

Today I was at the Lycée Josph Zobel centenary opening event and it was fantastic to meet the pupils there and see the unveiling of a new plaque in Joseph Zobel’s honnour. We then visited the fantastic exhibition prepared by pupils with the hep of Raphaelle Bouville: I’ll be back to talk to them about my work on Zobel tomorrow and have been busy preparing…

Local newspapers and radio stations have done interviews, and I’ll post links when the interviews appear! I can’t thank my friends in Riviere-salee enough for working in such close collaboration with me, particularly Raphaelle Bouville at the Médiathèque!

Paris Book Fair / Salon du Livre

A quick post this week as I’m preparing to leave for fieldwork in Martinique!

So I’ll share some more photos of the Salon du Livre in Paris – the event welcomes 200 000 visitors per year, and the Martinique Stand had programmed a series of events around Joseph Zobel, in which I was lucky enough to participate! This was a real opportunity to change the public perception of Zobel, in the presence of the French Minister for Overseas, George Pau-Langevin.

Firstly, the official launch of a new graphic novel adaptation of Zobel’s first novel, Diab’-là, by Roland Monpierre:

DSC00038  DSC00098DSC00100

Roland was kind enough to invite me to take part in an interview on the Stand Martinique so that I could discuss the international significance of the novel and his adaptation.

Special thanks go to Patricia Thiery who organised and co-ordinated all of these events and who runs the group “Passions Partagées” – I was honoured to collaborate with them!

Here are other pictures of events at the Salon du Livre with Jenny Zobel, Euzhan Palcy, Lyne-Rose Beuze, Jean-Michel Martial, Jean-Marc Rosier and Julienne Salvat – I will blog on this in more detail when I return from Martinique!

DSC00164 DSC00094 DSC00097 DSC00082DSC00123 DSC00157George-Pau Langevin in our audience