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African and Caribbean Literature: Romeo Mark A Lifetime of Writing

Written on:October 27, 2016
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Romeo-Mark, a storied literary journey

Born in Antigua, West Indies, Althea Romeo-Mark is an educator and writer who grew up in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. She has lived and taught in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, USA, Liberia (1976-1990), London, England (1990-1991), and in Switzerland since 1991. She earned a B.A. in English and Secondary Education from the University of the Virgin Islands and an M.A. in Modern American Literature from Kent State University, U.S.A. She also has a Cambridge Certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (CETEFLA).

She considers herself a citizen of the world, having lived and taught in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands (Adelita Concryne Middle School 1971-72); the USA (Department of Pan-African Affairs, Kent State University, TA 1972-74), Ohio; Liberia (University of Liberia 1976-1990); England (Fulham Cross Secondary Girls School January-July, 1991) and in Switzerland since 1991(Klubschule Migros, 1992-2012 and Volkshochule beider Basel & Senioren University 2000-present).

She is married to Dr. Emmanuel F Mark MD of Hermitage, Grenada and is the mother of three adult children Malaika Mark-Samples (of Florida State University);  Cassandra Mark-Thiesen,(University of Basel) ; Michael Mark, (Modfreak Store)

She was awarded the Marguerite Cobb McKay Prize by the Editorial Board of The Caribbean Writer in June, 2009 for publication of the short story “Bitterleaf.”

Her efforts and love for the written word saw her as one of a hundred guest-poets invited to read at the XX International Poetry Festival of Medellin, Colombia in 2010, and one of several guest  poets at Kistrech International Poetry Festival in Kissi, Kenya (2014). The poet, participated in Tag der Poesie, Basel, 2013 and in the 10th Anniversary Conference of the Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books (2015), Antigua.

She writes poetry and short stories and has been published in the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, The Bahamas, Barbados,  USA, England, Switzerland, Germany, Norway, Colombia, India, UK , Kenya, Liberia and Switzerland. Her last poetry collection, If Only the Dust Would Settle, was published in 2009.

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Madame Althea Romeo Mark is a celebrated writer

Complete Publication History 1971-2016

Recent publications

She wrote these poems: the “Rope,” “Cookbook,” and “Liberian Devil Comes to Town at Christmas,” which appeared in DoveTales, Family & Cultural Identity: An International Journal of the Arts, in 2016. “Runners in the Marathon of Time,” WomanSpeak: A Journal of Writing and Art by Caribbean Women, edited by Lynn Sweeting. Vol. 8, 2016; poem “Camp,” Moko: Caribbean Arts and Letters, Issue 8, March 2016.

Romeo-Mark’s poems, “Moon Dive,” and “Streets Not Paved with Gold,” were also published in POUI: The Literary Journal of the University of the West Indies, in its 16th Edition, Nov., 2015, and “Lost Love,” for Women in War, Advocates for Gender Balance, in Nov., 2015.

Last year was busy for Romeo-Mark: “Like Mami Water in Hiding,” which was seen in the Kaleidoscope,  Writers Abroad, “New World Bouillon,” and “Now Massa Loved Some Hunting,” The Caribbean Writer, which featured her work in its vol. 29th, and “Departure and Arrival,” Persimmon Tree (www.persimmontree.org/v2/summer-2015/international-poets ),“The Vengeance  of Gods and Spirits,” Caribbean-American Heritage Month Literary magazine, published in 2015. With these publications the poet has solidified her reputation and has reached new readers around the world.

If 2015 was a busy year, the writer’s work was widely circulated in 2014 also and can be found in following journals: “Unwanted Visitors,” and “Small Island Deprivations,” in Tongues of the Ocean, special feature on Antiguan Writers, “Neighbors Sanderson,” poem, in Moko Maganzine, “A Story of Immigrants,” personal essay, The Caribbean Writer, vol. 28, “Fitting into One’s Skin,” A review of Joanne Hillhouse’s novel, Oh Gad! This was also published in the The Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books, vol. 7, Kistrech Poetry Festival Anthology, Poems for the Hazara: An Anthology and Collaborative  Poem (multi-lingual), ed. Kamran Mir Hazar, WomanSpeak: A journal of writing and Art by Caribbean Women, which was edited by. Lynn Sweeting, vol.7, 2014. Writing is like breathing for Romeo-Mark, as if she needs it to stay alive, with these volumes, it is being said she is mentoring a new generation while still providing inspiration to her students on the continents she has passed though during these long storied years, of teaching, advocacy, and quietly making the point of telling the stories of her peoples as she influenced the art of African and Caribbean writing.

The previous year, 2012-2013 saw the writer’s work “The Haunt of Alma Negron,” (2013) and, “At the Mercy of Gods,” (2012) “Ugly Stories, poems” published in the Skin Deep” issue of BLACKBERRY Magazine. “Haunting Lesson,” a book review, “On the Road to Moko Jumbi Dreams,” was also published in volume 26th of The Caribbean Writer, along with several poems in The Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books that featured Antigua and Barbuda Women’s Poetry. Romeo-Mark also released a creative non-fiction piece in Step Away Magazine, and six poems in KRITYA, an Indian Literary Journal in English and Hindi (www.kritya.in), She has stayed true to the Caribbean culture of by being inclusive, while narrating the stories relentlessly of the people and tradition she knows.

Other published works include “Off the Coast, Maine’s International Poetry Journal, Winter, 2011 and Spring, 2009; Revista de Poesia Prometo: Memoria del XX Festival Internacional de Poesia de Medellin, Colombia 2010; Dirtcakes: The Hunger Issue, Vol. 1, No.1, Spring 2010, California; Tongues of the Ocean, Spring 2010, Bahamas; Sea Breeze, Journal of Contemporary Liberian Writings, October, 2011, May 2010, November and May 2009 edition, and the November and May 2008 editions, Spring 2009, USA/Liberia. Her work was also, accorded due respect in the August 2008 edition of Voodoo and Women; and Jigsaw: Writers’ Works Bern, 2004, 2007 and 2010; Calabash: Journal of Contemporary Arts and Letters, New York University, 4/2; 2008, Library Focus by Friends of the Antigua Public Library-New York, Inc., 2008. Romeo-Mark has always made herself accessible and has willingly shared her work when called upon, a true gift of an unselfish mind that wants to give consciously as she inspires with unrelenting audacity.

You will also find other published poems and short stories of this gifted writer in Seasoning for the Mortar: Virgin Islands Writing in The Caribbean Writer, Volumes 1-15, edited by Marvin H Williams, 2004; The Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review: Poetry of The Caribbean, edited by Tom O’Grady, 2004; Mind the Gap, Writers’ Works, Bern, 2004; Kariba Fortella: An Anthology of Caribbean Short Stories, 2001; Anthology 2000, Writers’ Works Bern and Tickling Along Free, edited by Diane Dicks 2000; Mini Sagas, Daily Telegraph, 1999; Yellow Cedars Blooming: An Anthology of Virgin Islands Poetry, 1998; Lucid Stone; Compost: A Journal of Art, Literature and Ideas, , Issue 8, Mass Cultural Council, 1996-97, USA,; The Caribbean Writer, 2012, 2008, 2004, 1996, 1995 , Sisters of Caliban: Contemporary Women Poets in the Caribbean, edited by M.J. Fenwick, Azul Editions,1996; Anthology of Pan-Caribbean Poetry, edited by Dr. Vincent Cooper, Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1995; Liberia: Leben Wo der Pfeffer Wächts, eds.  Veronika Fuest and Christina Salonek—-Liberia Working Group, Bremen, Germany, 1989; and Revista Review Inter-Americana, Vol.3. No. 4, Winter, 1974, Vol.4. No.1, Spring, 1974, Spring, 1975, Summer, Volume 6, 1976, Vol. 6. No. 2, Winter 76-77, Inter American University, Puerto Rico. Romeo-Mark’s career of writing and teaching is amazing.

Older Publication History

V.I.P. Anthology. Vol.1. No.1, English Dept., College of the Virgin Islands (Now UVI), 1972.Centre Magazine, Fall, Winter, Sun Isles Inc. St. Thomas, USVI, 1972.Skybill Magazine. Pan American Airlines. ACI Inc. St. Thomas, USVI, 1972.Proud Black Images, Ohio State University, Ohio, 1972.“ A Tribute to Black Men,” Black Ascensions Literary Magazine. Dept. of Black Affairs, Cuyahoga Community College, Ohio, June 1972.Human Issue. Vol.4. No. 2, Dept. of English, KSU, 1973. Flyer Two. Vol. 5. No. 2. Dept. of English. KSU, 1974. Echoes of the Unlocked Odyssey. Ed. Sal St. John Baltaci, New Jersey, USA, 1974. Welcome to My Pad. Afro-American Society, Case Western University, May, 1974.

Black Odyssey: A Search for Home, The Harvard Advocate, Harvard University Press, Mass. USA, 1974.Handmade Soap: Anthology of Poetry. California, 1975.Hell Is for Those Who Glitter: An Anthology of Black Creative Writing, Dept. of Pan African Studies: AAA Monograph Series, Vol. 3. No.1, Spring Quarter, 1974, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio,  Sun Jewels: Anthology of Virgin Islands Poetry. Ed. Valdemar Hill, Val Hill Enterprises, 1975. Black Ascensions. Cuyahoga Community College, Winter, Summer, Ohio, 1975 “Research Papers in Afro-American Studies,” JUJU, Spring, Case Western University, Ohio, 1975. “Excursions,” New Kent Quarterly, Spring. Kent State University, Ohio, 1975. Shellys, Shelly’s Book Bar, Kent State Univ., 1975. Ptah, Dept. of Pan-African Studies, KSU, Ohio.

Althea Romeo-Mark has published five collections of poems, If Only the Dust Would Settle, Authorhouse UK 2009, English-German, Beyond Dreams: The Ritual Dancer (Sabanoh Press, Liberia 1989), Two Faces, Two Phases (Speed-o-graphics, Liberia 1984), Palaver (Downtown Poets Co-op, New York, 1978), and Shu-Shu Moko Jumbi: The Silent Dancing Spirit, (Department of Pan-African Studies Monography Series, Vol. 1, No. 3, Spring, Kent State University, 1974).

A W A R D S

Marguerite Cobb McKay Prize by the Editorial Board of The Caribbean Writer in June, 2009 for publication (short story “Bitterleaf,”) in Volume 22, 2008. Short story prize for “Easter Sunday,” Stauffacher English Short Story Competition/Switzerland 1995, Poetry Award for poem “Ole No-Teeth Mama,” Cuyahogo Community Writers Conference. 1974, Scholarship Award. Breadloaf Writers’ Conference. Middlebury College, Vermont, USA. 1971.

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Romeo Mark’s work is also influenced by Maya Angelou

She has done writers /poetry workshops with: Dr. Mary Niles Black and Clarence Major in conjunction with the University of Liberia and the United States Information Service (USIS), Liberia, 1983; Maya Angelou in conjunction with Liberia Association of Writers and US Educational and Cultural Foundation, Liberia, 1986; Judson Jerome and Allen Ginsberg in conjunction with the English Department, College of the Virgin Islands, 1971; And many others since then (e.g. The Geneva Writers’ Conference). With these publications Romeo-Mark’s reputation has grown considerably over the years. Her work, also influenced by Maya has given her the strength and wisdom to write and sharpened her craft.

 

 

 

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