nterview Adele Ramos Daly – This Little Jewel Belize
Just over a year old, the Belizean Poets group has produced some remarkable poetry and writings. In a rare privilege Belizean Adele Ramos-Daly, poet, author, journalist and publisher reflects on their hopes and challenges.
Interview Adele Ramos Daly – This Little Jewel Belize
Q: The June 2006 issue of Belly Full e-Newsletter, which you produced is just out. Titled "Tribute of Daddy". Any reason you called it "Belly Full"?
Adele: ‘Belly full’ is a term we use often in Belize to denote the complete satisfaction of the appetite: a belly full of laughter, of wonderful food… of inspiring poetry. My hope is that each issue of the e-Newsletter, the country’s first, will satisfy the appetite of our readers, leaving their desires for literary inspiration fully quenched.
Q: Your own contribution in this issue was quite noted. Tell us about your father, what was he like? Was he nice and supportive?
Adele: My father was always very supportive. He was stern and loving at the same time, always having high expectations of us and urging us on to positive endeavors. He stressed education very highly, because he was a life-long educator and school administrator, having worked in all corners of Belize. He knew all the main languages here: his own language - Garifuna, and also English, Spanish, Maya and Creole. He loved people, music and nature. He was a journalist, historian and biographer. My love for writing is my gift from him.
Q: You are the President and the driving force behind the Belizean poets group. What is your mission? Can you elaborate on your experience so far?
Adele: As President of the Belizean Poets Society and Founder of the Belizean Poets Web Group, it has been a great privilege for me to play a direct role in the promotion of poetry in Belize, as well as Belizean poetry on the web. Having a web presence gives us access to a world of millions with whom we hope to share our talents and our love for literature.
It’s a big challenge, because resources are limited and committed people are few. It is my hope that others among us will realize the healing effects of poetry and become more committed to the cause.
Last September, I organized the first Belizean Poets Contest that attracted a number of entries. Coming out of that will be an anthology titled, Sunset Jewel. In April, we held a massive 3-hour festival in which over 60 performers, including poets, dancers, musicians and dramatists collaborated to show Belizeans how creative poets could be on stage.
I am in the process of organizing a series of events for September, including a poetry display and the second annual Belizean Poets contest. This time, the focus will be on emerging poets though accomplished poets will still be able to participate.
Q: Under title "Information is Power" Ramos Publishing, your own undertaking, offers also publishing of books. Which book do you publish? So far published books….
Adele: I am a journalist for the Amadala, Belize’s leading newspaper and the only bi-weekly one here at present. I created Ramos Publishing as an avenue for my other writings, such as poetry, novels, etc. The first book I published was PHASES: A Love Anthology. It was quite frankly an experiment that I wasn’t sure would succeed, but it did. I later published a second anthology of poems, LIBERATED, for an American retiree, Anne K. Lowe, who has migrated to Cancun, Mexico. I am working on SUNSET JEWEL and a couple other publications, including short stories for children, which I hope to complete over the course the year.
Q: I read your tribute to the US athlete Marion Jones, who is actually from Belize, published on the Caribbean Society website. What was the reason for writing this tribute to this extraordinary women?
Adele: This article was reproduced from the Amandala. It was one in the series of my weekly column, Personality of the Week, appearing in our Sunday paper. Each week, I feature Belizeans whose life story can inspire others. Marion Jones is a highly revered Belizean-American. Who better than Marion Jones, who outruns even the wind? I greatly admire her strength, resilience and courage, especially the way she stood resolute during the times when she was accused of drug violations. Marion is a stalwart, unshaken in the face of adversity.
Q: How do you see your future?
Adele: When I look into my future, I see me fully self-employed, no longer tied down to a desk with a computer, but seeing more of the world, experiencing more of life; doing more with my talents – writing more stories about Belizean life—poetry and more poetry—and putting my creative energies into fashioning unique garments, paintings and other forms of art.
Q: What makes you happy?
Adele: My happiness comes with having the liberty to do whatever my soul delights in doing. The thing I enjoy doing the most is traveling and seeing the wonders of nature. Ironically, writing poetry doesn’t always make me happy, but it always brings me to a place of peace.
Q: Which are your favorite authors and poets, who inspired you?
Adele: My father, Abraham Ramos, and grandfather, Belizean hero, T. V. Ramos, have been two of the most influential writers and poets in my life. I also love the writings of American poet and author, Maya Angelou. Belizean author and poet, Evan X Hyde, who is also the publisher of the Amandala, is also one of my icons. I think the poet Mutabaruka is profoundly sensational! I have been recently introduced to the works of Panamanian poet, UVA, who I think has great talent! I am also very inspired by the members on the Belizean Poets Web Group, among them Kalilah, Therese, Aria, BSG, Erwin, Wicked Man, Irena, Deseree, Edwina…and others too many to mention. I find unappreciated greatness where most eyes don’t bother to look.
Q: Poetry is really you. Belize is advertised as the "Number One" tourist destination. However, nothing of that paradise comes through in the poetry. But strong social issues, sadness, loss. Can you elaborate?
Adele: There have been over 1,400 postings on varied topics on the site since its inception last March. I guess the poetry that is being posted currently reflects the mood of the nation, our people. The poets who post on the web aren’t selling a tourism product or Belize as a destination, but they are writing about the issues that deeply affect us as a people. Tourism does not impact us the same way that murders, sexual abuse, and loss do.
Notably though, the September poetry contest will make a special call for patriotic pieces, just as it did last year. September 10th is our National Day (St. George’s Caye Day – when the English and Africans living in Belize in 1798 defeated the Spaniards for the territory). September 21st is Independence Day and we will be 25 this year. Poems celebrating Belize today and reflecting these milestones in our history will undoubtedly come!
Q: Hurricanes, decline of the coconut industry, bombardment of foreign values, ideas and influences. Here are great individuals, with dignity and strong values. Where do you stand as Belizean poets?
Adele: We are really a young group just over a year old, but many of us have been writing quietly in our own corners for several years. Some members live and study abroad; some are writing from here in Belize. We stand strong because many of us have a secure sense of identity and humility. Shared values and shared art keep us connected around the world.
Q: Is there are strong literary tradition in Belize? Who are the inspiring poets, authors?
Adele: Belize’s literary tradition is strong at its core, but under-promoted and under-appreciated. The folkloric tradition is fascinating with characters such as the trickster, Bra Anansi; the gluttonous Bra Tiger; Tataduhende, a hairy bushman with his feet turned backwards rumored to kidnap kids from the forest…Some stories are written in traditional Creole dialect and other native languages. There is a resurgence of interest in Belize’s folkloric tradition and a series of booklets have been published for the youth.
Like most developing countries that have suffered colonial rape, we have been taught to esteem first world authors like Shakespeare before our own. Undoubtedly, we have magnificent writers in our midst, some of whose works are now being taught in the schools: poet/novelist/playwright John Alelxander Watler; author Zee Edgell; poet/author/publisher Evan X Hyde; poet/author Myrna Manzanarez; poet Corinth Morter-Lewis, and many others.
Television has won over radio, which has won over print, but the Internet has afforded us a useful vehicle to take print communications to a new level. The Belly Full Poetry e-Newsletter is an example of this evolution.
Q: I was equally taken by your contribution to Garifuna Heritage Foundation. Am sure many would like to know about Garifuna, who they are, and what is their position in Belizean society?
Adele: The Garifuna people (‘Garinagu’ is plural form; ‘Garifuna’ is the singular noun and adjective) are people of Afro-Caribbean descent primarily living in St. Vincent, Honduras, Belize, Guatemala and Nicaragua and the United States.
The history of the Garinagu is a rich one. The traditional stories relate that a slave ship was wrecked in the late 1600’s off the island of St. Vincent. Slaves escaped and intermarried with the Caribs of St. Vincent, giving birth to the Garinagu, said to be an indigenous race in the Caribbean. This is a simplistic version of the story, and negates the pre-existence of Africans before the lost Columbus stumbled here. As they say, half our story has never been told.
Undoubtedly, Africans who arrived in the Caribbean during centuries of the trans-Atlantic slave trade have their descendants within the Garifuna population. Some of these resistant Africans also escaped from Barbadian slave plantations. Notable are stories that say that the Indians in the region trapped and raided some of the European vessels, freeing the Africans who intermarried with them.
Led in the late 1700’s by Paramount Chief Joseph Satuye, the Garinagu were especially strong on St. Vincent. They sided with the French but after Satuye (also Chatuye) died in battle, the British exiled them in 1797. Suffering the death of thousands along the way, they eventually reached Honduras and then migrating outward to Belize and other parts of the Americas, where the population has flourished to become one of the most vibrant groups of Africans in the region.
Any last comments, wishes, you would like to convey?
Adele: Thank you, Irena, for this opportunity to share with an international audience. Our wish is to have a positive impact on the world and to let people know that our Jewel, Belize, is a place where great people of varied ethnic backgrounds live and love, despite our differences and our challenges.
Thanks to God and our ancestors for our gifts of talent, and to those who have supported the cause!
Belize is a mystical jewel that links Central American and the Caribbean, a country of under 300,000 inhabitants.
Belly Full Poetry e-Newsletter: http://www.freewebs.com/bellyfull
Belizean Poets Web Group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/belizeanpoets/
Belizean Poets Society: http://www.freewebs.com/belizeanpoetssociety
Ramos Publishing: http://www.geocities.com/ramospublishing2005/index1.htmlhttp://www.freewebs.com/adeleramos/
POETRY BY Adele Ramos-Daly
Involuntary motion…Like a leaflet…Falling helplessly…From a withering…Mahogany tree…Made to stand strong…Yet weak today…Dying and decaying…Transient transposition…Morbidity wins…Intense whirlwind…Like a vortex…Swirling forcefully…More compellingly than…Gravity's pull…Tripping Titanic's anchor…Yet powerless against…The WO-MAN on the moon…Freely flying!
Spirit soaring…As the straying leaflet…Green and glossy with life…A dainty daisy falls too…Floating then spiraling…Rising then falling…Flying then flopping…In the wild winds…Of change…They find no rest…Calamities…Synchronizing their attack…Blizzard + heat wave…Tsunami + tornado…Air + water + fire…Elements of life…Ophthalmic constipation…A lonely tear drops…Quietly exposing…A tropical depression…Painfully escaping…The tightened corner…Of her reddened right eye…Freefalling…Splashing…Both daisy and leaf…Awakening body and soul…Resurrecting humanity whole…Evicting sorrow; evoking joy…Energizing pupils, black as night…Emotionless eyes: empty and hollow…Transform into lights exuding fire…No longer disenchanted…From journeying inside…And surfacing empty-handed…But celebrating…The rediscovery of soul…Potent passion…Inner peace…Renewed LIFE!
Numerous ruins indicate that for hundreds of years Belize was populated by the Maya Indians, whose advanced civilization reached its height between A.D. 250 and 900. Eventually the civilization declined leaving behind groups whose offspring still exist in Belize contributing to the culturally diverse population. In 1502, Columbus sailed through parts of the Caribbean, but did not actually visit the area later known as British Honduras. The first reference to European settlement in the colony was in 1638. These were later augmented by disbanded British soldiers and sailors after the capture of Jamaica from Spain in 1655, the settlement, whose main activity was logwood cutting, logwood was used in the past to produce dye, had a troubled history during the next 150 years. The Treaty of Versailles in 1783 reaffirmed those boundaries and logwood concession was extended by the Convention of London in 1786. Spanish attacks continued until a decisive victory was won by settlers, with British naval support. After that, British control over the settlement gradually increased and in 1871 British Honduras was formally declared a British Colony.
The country's name was changed on 1st June, 1973, from British Honduras to Belize. Independence was achieved on September 21, 1981. Belize was then admitted as a member of the United Nations, the Non-Alligned Movement and the Commonwealth of Nations. Belize's population is estimated to be at approximately 273,700. A melting pot of races, the main ethnic groups are: Mestizo, Creole, Ketchi, Yucatec and Mopan Mayas, Garifuna and East Indian.
Belmopan is the capital of the country. Built in 1970, it is the seat of Government and has been classified as the Garden City. Created following extensive damage to the former capital Belize City, caused by Hurricane Hattie in 1961. Belmopan is geographically located at the centre of the country. It serves also as a hurricane refuge. The Belizean flag shows "Sub Umbra Floreo" (Under One Shade I Flourish). It depicts two tree cutters standing beside a large tree.