Althea Romeo-Mark: The Nakedness of New

Romeo-Mark grew up in the West Indies, where her family drifted from island to island looking for work. In a series of gripping poems, she takes us inside the uneasy tapestry of immigrant cultures that form the Caribbean islands: a pastiche of hunger and oppression that makes survival a daily struggle.

 

 

In this remarkable collection, Althea Romeo-Mark uses poetry like a lance, a magnifying glass, and a soothing balm. Her verse gives the reader a close-up view of life as an immigrant in the Caribbean and details her experiences in England after fleeing the violence of the Liberian civil war.

Romeo-Mark grew up in the West Indies, where her family drifted from island to island looking for work. In a series of gripping poems, she takes us inside the uneasy tapestry of immigrant cultures that form the Caribbean islands: a pastiche of hunger and oppression that makes survival a daily struggle. She goes on to explore the problems encountered by women in a society that is male dominated, unstable, and unjust; by immigrants displaced from their homes and their ways of life; and by families committed to each other no matter what comes.

Divided topically, The Nakedness of New also includes three revealing personal essays and a section focused on her maternal grandmother, a controversial personality who held the family together. Through it all run the themes of resiliency, heart, and dedication to living—all things found in ordinary people if only you take the time to look for them.

Althea Romeo-Mark (born 1948) is an Antiguan-born writer and educator, who has travelled throughout the world and now makes her home in Switzerland. In addition to having published five volumes of poetry, she has been an invited speaker at international poetry festivals in Medellín, Colombia and Kisii, Kenya. She was one of the founders of the Liberian Association of Writers. In 2009, she was awarded the Marguerite Cobb McKay Prize by The Caribbean Writer.

Althea Romeo was born in 1948 in English Harbour, Antigua, to Gilbert Romeo and his wife. Her father was from the Dominican Republic, though his mother was Antiguan, of British heritage, and his father was from Saint Martin. Her mother was born in Saint Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, to an Antiguan father, of black South African heritage, and her mother was from Nevis. When she was eight years old, Romeo’s family moved to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. After graduating from St. Peter and Paul Catholic School in 1967, Romeo earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of the Virgin Islands in education and English in 1971. After briefly teaching at Addelita Cancryn Junior High School in St. Thomas, she then attended Kent State University in Ohio, earning a master’s degree in literature in 1974. Her husband, a Grenadian national, had been educated in Liberia.

 

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