Whose Words These Are (24): Eli Marienthal’s Spoken-Word Haiti

Click to listen to Chris’s conversation with Eli Marienthal (15 min, 7 mb mp3)

Eli Marienthal’s Haiti story is about a little-boy obsession with his Haitian twin, met on the first of many trips to Haiti to visit his father. The earthquake this winter seems to have jolted loose his fixation, toward insight and action.

Eli is the very picture of millennial possibility. He was a teen idol movie star growing up in California. He’s got a Brown degree now, in international development and comparative literature, and the zeal to apply it:

There is a practical aspect to the work I would like to be doing in Haiti that has everything to do with growing food. The Haitian landscape has been devastated by any number of natural and unnatural phenomena. I think that everywhere in the world, one of the most successful strategies for healing the planet is permaculture, which mimics natural systems in such a way that humans at an appropriate scale are able to reap what they need to sustain themselves — and the ecosystem of which they are a part. As Wendell Berry says, all creative work is a strategy of healing. My Haiti story — click and listen above — is itself a strategy of healing. Growing food is another strategy of healing. They aren’t separate to me.

This is the fourth in a group of conversations with poets, word-artists, about a catastrophe beyond words: the earthquake in Haiti this January. Tomorrow: Haitian-American High School Senior and poet Fabienne Casseus.

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