Roatan’s Beauty, Truth & Wisdom

Poet and Teacher with Roatan Roots Shines on the Mainland

Poet and writer Xiomara Cacho Caballero was born and raised in the village of Punta Gorda, amidst the ingenious sounds of drums beats and rhythmical dance of her prolific and colorful culture. It’s no accident; perhaps, that she would eventually embark on her own creative journey of poetic inspiration and narrative creation that would lead her to become Honduras’ most celebrated black poet and writer.

As a child she was always interested in the written word” I remember reading Dr. Seuss’s “Cat in The Hat” and “Walk About” by James Vance Marshall. She read the little Red Hen and the Never-Ending Story among others and by the age of 16 she had already published her first journalistic article and has been writing ever since.

A dedicated writer whose work reflects everyday issues and concerns realized that she wanted to be a writer when she started loving herself. “I realized I wanted to write when I started loving myself… and realized that the written word has the power to generate ideas, inspire revolution and change the way we see ourselves and even our place in history”, she says.

The realization that she wanted to be a writer was re-enforced by the works of prominent African American poets Maya Angelou and Langston Hughes; Spanish poet Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer as well as her favorite Honduran poet, Robert Sosa.

As a poet, essayist, novelist and writer, she has published numerous books of poems, short stories and essays. She has also won numerous awards for her works including “El Premio Nacional de Literatura y Poesía” an award she has received three times. One of her recent books titled “Poesía, Cantos, Ceremonias y Vestimentas de La Cultura Garifuna” details the cultural and traditional aspects of her ancestors.

Though she believes that everyone has some creativity and that can be developed, extended and fertilized, becoming a great poet is not easy. “To be a great poet”, she says “takes inspiration, constant motivation and professional attitude”.

As perhaps the most recognized and read black poet in Central America, Xiomara Cacho Caballero has learned many lessons on her journey to becoming the first Garifuna woman to ever publish a book in Honduras. The most important lesson she has learned: “Is that in our development as human beings, we reach for auto determination when we realize that honor is much more important than finances and that everyone, without exception, and we most advocate respect and all other moral values,” she says.

Honor is much more important than finances.

Being both a poet and writer is no easy feat, and Ms Caballero sometimes find it personally difficult to write poetry, “One of the most difficult things about my personal journey as a black poet was to get started and give rise to the Honduran black poetry, to balance the verbal and structural experimentation with traditional ways; to consolidate the words of a marginalized people, and to integrate ethnic thoughts into Honduran poetry…”.

Poet and writer Xiomara Cacho Caballero could also be defined as an activist for social change as she writes about the social and economic problems facing the black community and is inspired by those issues, I’m inspired by social, educational and religious injustice, the socio ethnic inequalities that puts the predominant ethnocentrism perspective in crises she said.

Hailed by “La Tribuna”, one of Honduras leading newspapers, as “The Voice of the Garifuna Homeland”, Xiomara Cacho Caballero is an alumna of the historical black university Harris–Stowe State University in St. Louis, Missouri as well as of the Universidad Pedagógica Nacional Francisco Morazán, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. She speaks four languages including Garifuna, Spanish, French and English; some of her poems are written in those languages.

The poet, who has been teaching at university for more than 25 years, also believes that each time a poem is written a poet is born and she hopes that someday society will give poetry the fundamental importance that it had in earlier times.

As a constant advocate for change and improvement in education and everyday living for the black community and Hondurans in general, “My current project involves supplying the libraries of the Bay Islands with documents, books, and historical, educational, inter-ethnic materials that strengthen bilingual intercultural Education.

As a scholar of her culture and the reality of black existence in Honduras, she attempts to share her experiences and those of her people in her writing; an opportunity she uses to depict the black veracity in the Bay Islands and the country. “Literature creates identity. Through my writings I try to materialize the black presence. Through memory, and literary imagination in which I show today, black identity as a culture that can’t be ignored… Literature is a way of fighting discrimination…” Says the poet whose favorite poem is one she wrote about her mother entitled “My Island Mother.”

“My island mother,                                                    
Spent her existence
Cooking and baking coconut bread
Giving food to her chickens
And taking care of the family garden
She sold conchs, fish, crabs and shells,
She cleaned her white sand beach
Sailed in tornadoes,
Hurricanes, high and low tides
Between rains, drizzles
Thunder and lightning,
She walked to work in Jonesville…”