Lanmé: Wisdom From The Waters

Lanmé: Wisdom From The Waters

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By: Valencia Clement 

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Lanmé means “ocean,” in Haitian-Creole.

Lanmè is a book that predates me life by about ten years. The book starts in 1982 when my Grandfather Jacques set sail for the U.S. He set his sights on the States and chose the ocean as his Highway to freedom and opportunity. Although, journeys like his often end at the bottom of the ocean, he made it to the coast of the United States and entered. For him, the ocean was a form of possibility and opportunity. Although I never met my grandfather due to his untimely death, his story is my history. The parts of the Earth that called out to him, also call out to me but I have almost forty years hindsight perspective that give nuance to my grandfather’s unique journey.

My grandfather’s life provides a unique perspective to my worldview. It helps me illuminate the legendary roots of our Haitian & Taino history especially as it relates to imperialism. His life is also a tool that helps me disentangle the contradictory hopes and horrors that led him to re-establish our family here in the states. As an ancestor, his wisdom helps me actualize my metaphysical connections beyond the human dimension & continue the radical, revolutionary aims that generations of Black people have begun before me.This book is an acknowledgement of my grandfather’s legendary and revolutionary decisions. Writing this text helped me see that the waters, mountains and oceans would always be a connecting force between myself and ancestors whose names I do not know.This collection is my attempt to blend philosophy, history and culture together through poetry to honor the journey that made me a Haitian-American, citizen of the modern Empire, in all my complexity.

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