This article exposes a tradition of literary experimentation in Haiti which goes back to the work of the largely overlooked poet Magloire-Saint-Aude. Long after his death in 1971, a new generation of Haitian writers has followed his lead and has split from the militant, realist writing inaugurated by indigénisme and exemplified by politically committed leftist writers such as Jacques Roumain. Édouard Glissant’s theorizing of a materialist poetics derived from painting is used to explain the nature of the influence Saint-Aude exerted on later writers. Painting’s ability to evoke the opacity of things and to materialize the mysterious new possibilities opened up an experimental literature which was neither referential nor representative. In Haitian popular art novelists have found such a model for translating a modern Haitian imaginary.