Haitian poet and writer Kettly Mars will be our guest at the writer’s residence in Amsterdam from the 16th of April till the 16th of June. Her work has been translated into Dutch, German, English, Danish and Japanese.
Kettly Mars (Port-au-Prince, 1958) studied Classical Languages and has had a fascination for poetry ever since she was little. In her mid-thirties she started writing poetry herself, later switching to prose — her main focus now. All her novels take place in Haiti and generally connect topics such as gender, race, social status, spirituality, power and violence.
Her work was awarded by the Prince Claus Fund in 2011 for giving an important boost to Caribbean literature, and for the brave way in which it denounces unconventional subjects. The jury praised Mars for being ‘a powerful and pervasive writer with fresh insights on contemporary reality and who gives us a vivid, nuanced idea of Haitian society’.
Mars debuted in 2003 with Kasalé, a novel about nature, spirituality and elusive local traditions. L’heure hybride (2005) presents us Rico, who, after a night full of sex and alcohol, oversees his life and realizes that there is only one woman he loves: his mom who is a prostitute. In 2011, Mars and writer Leslie Péan published Le prince noir de Lillian Russell, a novel about the eponymous Vaudeville-star from 19th century New York.
Her fourth novel Saisons Sauvage (‘Savage Seasons’) is about power, impotence and sexual desire. The beautiful protagonist becomes the obsession of a powerful state-secretary. This title is also available in Dutch (Wrede seizoenen, De Geus 2010, translation by Marianne Kaas).
Since 2010, Mars is working on an anthology of literature written by Haitian women from the 18th, 19th and 20th century.
Kettly Mars has been awarded with the Jacques Stephen Alexis Prize for best short story (1996), the Senghor Prize for literature (2006), the Barbancourt Reward (2011), and the Prins Claus Prize (2011). She is president of the PEN Club Haïti’s women’s committee and one of the judges at the Prix Henri Deschamps and at the Prince Claus Fund.