Writer and former Midcoast resident Patti Marxsen will address the current situation in Haiti and read from her new collection, “Tales from the Heart of Haiti,” during a Seniors Series event at Camden Public Library Friday, Oct. 15 at 2 p.m. The events in the library’s Seniors Series are scheduled as daytime events and are meant to be of interest to senior citizens as well as others. The events are free and open to all.

Marxsen’s book was published earlier this year by Educa Vision, a Haitian-American publishing house. Prior to the mid-1990s, she lived locally, teaching French and regularly contributing to The Camden Herald, Coast 102.5 and the Maine Antique Digest. As writing consultant The Write Woman, she also was recording secretary for the Town of Rockport, editing the award-winning Comprehensive Plan of 1992.

Oddly enough, it was as The Write Woman that Marxsen first came to know Haiti; in 1997, she began a decade-long association with Haiti’s Hospital Albert Schweitzer as a writer, editor and communications consultant. In the past 10 years, she has published numerous stories, articles, essays, commentaries and reviews of Haitian art and literature. Earlier this year, she was elected to the board of the Haitian Studies Association, an interdisciplinary group of scholars, writers and professionals based at UMASS-Boston.

“I consider myself to be a student of Haiti. It began with my lifelong interest in French culture, but Haiti presents a special set of questions and challenges. Before you know it, you are exploring the vast canvas of modern history,” Marxsen said.

Haiti was once France’s richest colony and became the first black republic in the world in the wake of a slave revolution, winning independence from France in 1804. Marxsen said she supposes the most fascinating question is “Why has the promise of Haitian independence remained unfulfilled?'”

In her stories, Marxsen presents a complex perspective of the Haitian people by writing of their interactions with foreigners who come to help “the poorest nation in the western hemisphere.” Since the earthquake of Jan. 12, 2010, Haiti has had more than 10,000 nonprofit organizations on the ground. But Marxsen questions how much foreign “helpers” understand.

“Only when we allow ourselves to enter into that mysterious world of Haitian history, Haitian spirituality and Haitian loss do we begin to see the true boundaries and connections,” she said, adding “Each of my stories involves a moral dilemma aimed at creating an encounter that goes beyond the superficial.”

In addition to a reading from her new book and signing copies, Marxsen will address the current situation in Haiti by delineating the most urgent needs and sharing her views on how international organizations can best help to meet those needs.

“The needs are enormous, but we have to think of investment in the future. Humanitarian aid never leads to the same result as investment,” she said.

Marxsen has served as a communications manager in several nonprofit organizations in New England including a stint as executive director at the former Maine Coast Artists in Rockport, director of public affairs at the Massachusetts Horticultural Society and seven years as publications manager at a Boston-based peace institute. Her Haiti-related writings have been published in the Caribbean Writer, The French Review, the Journal of Haitian Studies and the Women’s Review of Books, among others. In addition to “Tales from the Heart of Haiti,” she is the author of 2008’s “Island Journeys: Exploring the Legacy of France.” She currently lives in Switzerland with her husband, a retired surgeon, and is on an extended visit to the United States this fall to visit family and friends and help organize and participate in the annual conference of the Haitian Studies Association at Brown University.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail to dernest@villagesoup.com.