Duraciné Vaval


(Born in Les Cayes, 1879; died in 1952)

Duraciné Vaval was born in Haiti in 1879 and educated there and in France (Underwood 135). A lawyer by trade, Vaval held many different job titles throughout his life, including high school teacher, civil court judge, Western court of appeal judge, and head of Haitian legislation in London and Havana (Morpeau 238). In addition to crediting Vaval as the first to introduce free verse to Haitian poetry (in the 1912 Stances Haïtiens), Morpeau notes that he gave conferences, published about the history of Haitian literature, and wrote at least one play, Mlle Michot, performed at the Parisiana Theatre in Port-au-Prince in 1916 (Morpeau 238). Presenting himself as a “lawyer and publicist” in a 1938 letter to American intellectual W.E.B. Dubois, Vaval asks the celebrated American for assistance in finding an English-language publisher for his work (Duval, “Letter”). Langston Hughes and Arna Bontemps published an English translation of Vaval’s poem “The Mangoes” by Edna Worthley Underwood in The Poetry of the Negro, p. 360 and Underwood published two others in her The Poets of Haiti (135-136).

Biography by Emeline Frix and Elizabeth Emery, 2023


Hughes, Langston and Arna Bontemps. The Poetry of the Negro, 1746-1949. Doubleday and Company, 1949. https://archive.org/details/poetryofthenegro009355mbp

Morpeau, Louis. Anthologie d'un siècle de poésie haïtienne 1817-1925. Bossard, 1924.

Underwood, Edna Worthley. The Poets of Haiti, 1782-1934. The Mosher Press, 1934.

Vaval, Duraciné. Letter of 11 September 1938 to W.E.B. Du Bois. W. E. B. Du Bois Papers (MS 312). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries. https://credo.library.umass.edu/view/full/mums312-b087-i058

Vaval, Les Stances Haitiennes, Messein, 1912. https://worldcat.org/title/990634838

Vaval, Duraciné. La Littérature haïtienne, essais critiques. Paris : E. Sansot, 1911. https://catalogue.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/cb315505928

Vaval, Duraciné. Histoire de la littérature haïtienne, ou "L'Âme noire". Port-au-Prince : impr. de A. Héraux, 1933. https://issuu.com/scduag/docs/pap11111-1


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Sunday, January 1st
12:00 AM

La Prière du soir / The Evening Prayer

Duraciné Vaval

Translation: Monica Rodriguez Escobar

Midi tropical / Noon in the Tropics

Duraciné Vaval

Translation: Luka Buncic