Jean-Marie Denis

2007 Florida Folk Heritage Award

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Venerated arts advocate, author, and playwright Jean-Marie Denis, also known as Jan Mapou, was born in Haiti in 1941. After settling in Miami, the largest Haitian community outside of Haiti, he founded Sosyete Koukouy in 1985 to ensure the continued vitality of Haitian traditional culture and the Kreyòl language. In 1990, Denis opened the Libreri Mapou bookstore in Little Haiti, which contains the largest inventory of titles on Haitian culture and history in the nation. The building also serves as the Mapou Cultural Center, which hosts rehearsals by Sosyete Koukouy's stellar corps of traditional dancers and musicians, Haitian Kreyòl language classes and annual symposia, holiday celebrations, storytelling presentations, and other events. Denis has dedicated more than half a century to advocating for Haitian traditional culture and the Haitian Kreyòl language.