In “Our Guernica,” the final essay in Create Dangerously, Edwidge Danticat focuses on the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti in January 2010 and destroyed her former neighborhood in Port-au-Prince. Like so many of her essays, Danticat beautifully weaves together the personal with the universal, extrapolating her own experiences into greater thoughts about politics and the nature of art and artists. In particular, Danticat writes about how the earthquake has forever changed Haiti and its people—and also how it has forever changed the artists living in the Haitian Diaspora.
From now on, there will always be the Haiti of before the earthquake and the Haiti of after the earthquake. And after the earthquake, the way we read and the way we write, both inside and outside of Haiti, will never be the same. Daring again to speak for the collective, I will venture to say that perhaps we will write with the same fervor and intensity (or even more) as before. Perhaps we will write with the same sense of fearlessness or hope. Perhaps we will continue to create as dangerously as possible, but our muse has been irreparably altered. Our people, both inside and outside of Haiti, have changed. In ways I am not yet fully capable of describing, we artists too have changed. (p. 162)
Have you experienced such a defining “before and after” moment in your life? How did it change you as a person? As an artist? What did you take away from “Our Guernica?” Share your thoughts in the comments!