Patti M. Marxsen is an American writer and independent scholar whose articles, essays, and reviews have been published in the United States and Europe. Her association with Haiti began in the Artibonite Valley in 1997 when she spent a summer as liaison for foreign visitors at the Hôpital Albert Schweitzer (HAS). It was there that she became a self-described “student of Haiti,” eventually serving as the Boston-based secretary of the HAS North American Alumni Association. In 2009, she joined the board of the Haitian Studies Association, assisting in the planning of three annual conferences. Marxsen’s contributions to Haitian studies have been noteworthy with articles, reviews, and translations of Haitian literature published in the French Review, the Caribbean Writer, the Women’s Review of Books, Asymptote, and the Journal of Haitian Studies, among others.
During her seven years as publications manager at the Boston Research Center—now the Ikeda Center for Peace, Learning, and Dialogue—Marxsen developed multi-author books on ethics and global education. Her own books include a collection of travel essays, Island Journeys: Exploring the Legacy of France (2008); a collection of short fiction, Tales from the Heart of Haiti (2010); and a biography of the little-known wife of Albert Schweitzer, Helene Schweitzer: A Life of Her Own (2015). Her book-length translations include Albert Schweitzer’s Lambarene: A Legacy of Humanity for Our World Today by Jo and Walter Munz (2010) and Riversong of the Rhone, a bilingual edition of Swiss writer C. F. Ramuz’s Chant de notre Rhône (2015). In 2017, she served as editor-in-chief of Offshoots–Writing from Geneva, the biennial literary journal of the Geneva Writers’ Group.
Her most recent book is a biography of an iconic Haitian writer, ethnologist, and public intellectual, Jacques Roumain (1907–1944). Roumain is best known for Gouverneurs de la rosée, a novel translated by Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes as Masters of the Dew (1947). As with her previous work, this project involved extensive travel in the Francophone world as well as multi-lingual research. Jacques Roumain: A Life of Resistance (Caribbean Studies Press, 2019) includes an Appendix of Marxsen’s translations of Roumain’s “Key Writings from the 1930s.”
Patti Marxsen lives in Switzerland and the coast of Maine, where she taught French in the early 1990s.