(Born 1840 in Cap Haitien; died 1906 in Port-au-Prince)
One of Haiti's best-known poets abroad and considered the father of poetry composed in Krèyol (Morpeau 93), Durand came from a modest background. He worked as a tinsmith after completing primary school in 1855, then as a high school teacher in the 1860s. It may be there that he met his wife, fellow poet Virginie Sampeur to whom he was married from 1862 until they divorced in 1871. According to Berrou, Durand undertook his own education and poetry writing in the evenings after work, acquiring the knowledge necessary to teach, work as a journalist, and then, as a politician (322-324). Morpeau describes Durand's work as a journalist, collaborating on Demesvar Delorme’s L’Avenir. In 1876, he was the Bigailles newspaper director, and in 1879, he collaborated on L’echo du Nord. He is alleged to have written his first verses, Choucoune (in Krèyol), while imprisoned, but established good relationships with those who jailed him and with the public, becoming an elected official six times and president of the Chamber of Deputies (Morpeau 93-94). Durand wrote poetry throughout his life and until his death in 1906. The digitized versions of two volumes of his 1896 Rires et pleurs can be consulted below.
Biography by Emeline Frix, 2022
Berrou Raphaël, and Pradel Pompilus. Histoire de la littérature haïtienne illustrée par les textes. Ed. Caraïbes, 1975.
Laroche, Maximilien. "Oswald Durand." Web site Ile en Ile, 2020. Text in French containing a rich bibliography.
Morpeau, Louis. Anthologie d'un siècle de poésie haïtienne 1817-1925. Bossard, 1924.
|Saturday, January 1st|
Translation: Guervens Guermilus