In 1994, Nicolas Ramos Lopez came to Cayman from his native Cuba. Twenty years later, he has six published books under his belt, five in Spanish and one in English, with more than 10 in the pipeline.
His most recent book, “Cuando Caigan Las Hojasm,” which translates as “When the Leaves Come Falling Down,” is a collection of poems on love, published by Palibrio.
The road to becoming a published poet has not been smooth, especially for his first book, “Destilando Miel,” or “Distilling Honey.”
“It has been a very difficult trip for any local writer to get his voice out there, even harder for immigrants to do so,” said Ramos Lopez. “The hardest part is the challenge to publish in Spanish. I had to use the social networks to spread my work in order to find a good and affordable agency to publish my books due to my limited funds to do so. Thank God I found an editorial house with which I launched ‘Distilling Honey.’”
Ramos Lopez, who counts Amado Nervo, Mario Benedetti and José Marti as poets he admires, has been passionate about writing, especially poetry, from an early age. He said the process of writing poetry can be inconsistent.
“Poetry is not about time but about inspiration,” said Ramos Lopez.
“It comes unexpectedly and may make you write tirelessly for hours. There are some other times when you don’t find inspiration and the writer may be blocked for a while.”
Literature, according to Ramos Lopez, is a less favored artistic expression in Cayman, but he believes there are changes afoot in this area. “Some organizations and individuals, such as Caywriters, Cayman Writer’s Circle, Nosotros, Floetry, Drum Circle, etc., are promoting literature,” he said.
“The role played by Books & Books and the Public Library Service towards this endeavor should also be highlighted. The annual Cayman Islands Book Fair and the Cayman Islands Poetry Festival, which will be held for the first time in March, are proof of the evolution of literary arts in Cayman, which looks to have a bright future.”
Having now spent most of his life in his adopted home of Cayman, he has made many friends and acquaintances.
“I have shared with many lovely people who have given me their sincere friendship, for which I am very grateful.” Some of the people Ramos Lopez has encountered in his years in Cayman are part of Spanish arts group Nosotros, who gather to share their work, and participate in cultural discussions and workshops.
Ramos Lopez described the group as the “bastion” of Spanish writing on-island, and “the voice of the Spanish speakers in the Cayman Islands, culturally speaking.” The poet credits the organization with preserving Spanish speaking people’s traditions, heritage and history, and combining it with the melting pot of cultures that coexist in Cayman.
Ramos Lopez explained that Nosotros has diversified since its inception.
“Its original aim was to create a space for Spanish writers and poets to share their talents, but suddenly other artists such as musicians, visual artists, magicians, readers and poetry lovers started to join. It was great,” Ramos Lopez said.
“English is even used from time to time, to accommodate the growing number of non-Spanish speakers who attend purely because they love “la lengua de Cervantes.” We don’t discriminate. All are welcome!”
Ramos Lopez plans to continue to share his poetry with the world. He is editing two books of poems at present, the first “Blue, Rebirth of Faith” is completely dedicated to God, and he hopes it will be translated to English in order for non-Spanish speakers to enjoy it.
The second book is titled “I’m With You” and returns to the theme of love, continuing on from his previous works.
After that, “Let’s see how things work out,” he said. And, while the challenges of publishing may be encountered again, he added, “where there is a will, there is a way.”