The book entitled “Poems from Jamaica” was released in China in March of 2020. It is the first collection of Jamaican poems to be translated into Chinese and published in China. This historic literary event was made possible through a collaboration between Professor Paulette A. Ramsay, a poet and professor at the University of the West Indies (UWI) in Kingston, and Professor Hou Tao of the University of Technology in Taiyuan, Shanxi Province, in China.
The writer of the poems, Professor Ramsay, was raised in Hanover, Jamaica, and earned a Ph.D. in Spanish at UWI. She also attended the University of Florida and language institutes in the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and Spain. Before taking her post UWI’s Department of Languages in Mona, Ramsay was a visiting professor in the foreign language department of Berry College in the United States. She is particularly interested in the literary products and culture of Afro-Hispanic communities. Several of her articles, translations, reviews, and interviews have been published in academic journals.
The Jamaican poetry collection focuses on the thriving culture of the island and is filled with traditional beliefs and folklore that form the heart of expressiveness in Jamaicans. Professor Hou Tao translated the poems into Chinese. The poems offer a way to explore life, traditions, and family bonds in Jamaica and the importance of passing on societal customs from generation to generation. For Jamaicans who live in China, the book “Poems from Jamaica” offers a way to “walk down memory lane” and consider the roots and bonds that exist on the home island.
Ramsay’s poems, which she wrote in English, reflect her interest in the life and people around her. As a Latin American writer, Ramsay offers historical views of Afro Hispanic societies, and her poetry often addresses the history and future of oppressed people against a setting of daily modern life. The translations offer a way for Chinese people to recognize the similarities and differences between the cultures of China and Jamaica.
The two universities have developed close ties since they participated in the joint building of the first Confucius Institute in Jamaica in 2009. Hou Tao, in choosing and translating the poems, has tried to encourage bilateral cooperation and enhance educational collaboration and people-to-people exchanges. The publication of “Poems from Jamaica’ is also designed to present vivid expressions of Jamaica life and materials for national and regional research.
The translations offer a way to recognize the similarities and differences between the cultures of China and Jamaica.
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