Poets may choose to do other things during their lifetime but their poetry undoubtedly continues to live on – that is the story of a Palauan poet who may have chosen another path at the moment but whose works continue to reach people even from outside her country.
At the age of 78, Palauan poet Hermana Ramarui continues grooming herself but this time not as a poet but as a businesswoman.
When asked if she still writes poetry, Ramarui said that she is currently focused in her personal development, particularly in advancing her career in network marketing. But when she spoke about poetry, her face lit up – an apparent sign that her love for it remains.In fact, Ramarui shared that she has been writing stories for children and has intentions to compile them into a book.
Unknown to Ramarui, her name appeared on the website of the Poetry Foundation, a Chicago-based independent literary organization that aims to promote poetry to a wider audience. Her name had been listed on the website along with the other poets from the Pacific and around the globe.
When asked if she knew that her name appeared in the Poetry Foundation, Ramarui could only say that she had no idea how it happened. Although she said that she had been notified by friends about the news before.
Ramarui shared that her love for poetry started back in college when she was studying BA in English at the University of Guam.
“I took interest [in writing poetry] when I took the course. They [poems] are meaningful. I started to write and I was really good in writing them,” Ramarui fondly recalled. She was 26 then.
As a poet, Ramarui relived what it is like to write a poem. She said that writing poems gave her peace.
“When I found something very interesting, when I was emotionally charged…I found myself writing and not only that I also like to think about abstract things [and] think about the space beyond us,” Ramarui shared.
Ramarui’s 46-page poetry book entitled “A Palauan Perspective” reflects the sentiment of a Palauan regarding several topics such as education, environment, colonialism, war, and traditions. This is the only poetry book she had which she wrote for several years after she returned back to Palau after earning a degree. Her works, which were written in both English and Palauan languages, can be bought for only $10 from the Belau National Museum.
Ramarui explained that one thing she likes about poetry is its power to explain the “truth better than the truth.”
“Poetry is a writing that can be a fact or opinion and explains things in different kinds of ways,” Ramaraui said.
Ramarui’s strong commentaries about several societal issues are quite evident in her works. Take for example her poem entitled “Freedom” where she discussed about her views about the United States in Micronesia. The poem goes:
A giant man
In a US made
Who does things
Who does things
For every give
There’s a return
One way or
– Hermana Ramarui, A Palauan Perspective, Page 41
“I feel safe about writing poetry rather than writing prose because it is my own opinion and I don’t have to prove myself. It was my opinion about [a certain topic] and my belief,” Ramarui said.
Ramarui currently lives in Palau with her only son. She is a retired teacher and had previously worked with the Ministry of Education (MOE). During her teaching career, she taught English and Palauan at the Palau High School. She is also among those who had been credited for crafting the Palauan Cultural Profile Curriculum and the Palauan Orthography that are now used in Palau schools. (By Rhealyn C. Pojas)