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Dec 2, 2010

The Poetry of Carrie Fairweather-Belgrave

Renowned Belizean personality Carrie Fairweather-Belgrave is tonight launching a book of poems at the Bliss Center for the Performing Arts.  Fairweather, better known for her role as Gran Tomasa in ‘Noh Matta Wat, is struggling with a terminal illness.  The presentation of her lifework in literature comes at a time when her legacy is being celebrated while she is still alive.  The fifty-three page publication is being accompanied by a documentary that also provides a glimpse into her life. Even though she isn’t doing well, special arrangements are being made for Fairweather to attend her book launch.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano sat with Fairweather today to learn how this labor of love came into being.

“Why was not this light of life revealed to me in youthful arrogance?  Was my own soul unworthy of its own truth that I who walked along life‘s path for so long was so wrong, very wrong?”

Seventy-seven year old Carrie Fairweather in a moment of clarity a little over three decades ago penned her first poem while inside a mental institution in New York City.  She was in the process of recovery following a bitter separation from an ex-husband.  Like many who suffer severe bouts of depression Fairweather was forced to look inward to find the true meaning of her life.

Carrie Fairweather Belgrave, Belizean Poet, Actress & Author

carrie Fairweather Belgrave

“I was like putting the puzzles of my life together.  [I] went way down to two years old.  The depression took me, I did not eat [or] sleep.  Maybe I’d take a cup of coffee.  I’d see night turn to day and day turn to night and night turn to day and day turn to night.  I saw the sun rise and set and rise and set because I was inside of me searching to put the pieces together again to find each bit that I did What did I do?”

This mother of seven, a prolific poet whose work evokes that of Rilke, rose to prominence among Belizean youths in her role as Gran Tomasa in the hit play ‘Noh Matta Wat’ which debuted in November 2005.

{Snippet of Carrie Fairweather in play}

The story of Carrie Fairweather however, goes back to her days as a young lady who migrated to the United States for work in her earlier days.

Carrie Fairweather Belgrave

“After I got to the United States my basic desire and ambition was to go to school.  I did not have the opportunity to go to college here because my father felt that women should not get an education; that we should marry and have children and be a housewife.  And even though I was smart he would not pay, at that time you had to pay for your education.  He refused to pay and so I did not get that opportunity and I wanted it so badly.”

Fairweather would eventually educate herself by enrolling in remedial classes that coincided with her children being away at school during the day.  In the play she emphasizes the need for education and self-empowerment.  To her it’s the epitome of art imitating life.

Carrie Fairweather Belgrave

“It’s a role that I didn’t have to put any effort in because that’s me.  That’s person, you could ask my children, that’s the person I am, very strict, perfection, perfectionist.”

It is a quality that saw the ailing artist compiling her literary achievement into a collection called ’Parchment Pages’; a retrospective on the life of Carrie Fairweather-Belgrave that compliments her existing legacy.  This book of verses may very well be her last, a final wish, she says, that was granted by God.

Carrie Fairweather Belgrave

“There is something He wants me to do and I don’t know what it is.  I’m just waiting.  I know He wanted me, He knows how badly to eventually publish these things and maybe this is part of what he wanted me to do because I didn’t plan this.  It just started to grow out.  It took on legs and all I wanted to do was to send, release my book and that’s it.”

The launch of Fairweather’s book tonight comes three months after being diagnosed terminally ill with pancreatic cancer.  Doctors in Fort Lauderdale told her that there wasn’t anything that can be done to remedy her illness.  She recently returned to her home in Belize City where she is visited by lifelong friends including Wilfred Elrington who dropped in as we sat with her.  The proceeds of her work have been dedicated to her granddaughter’s scholarship program, education on foot care for diabetics and the Belize Cancer Society. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

Fairweather’s book and DVD will retail in bookstores across the country shortly after its release.  Copies of the documentary which was compiled by Thirteen Productions are available at its office on Albert Street by pre-order.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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18 Responses for “The Poetry of Carrie Fairweather-Belgrave”

  1. Youth says:

    Don’t normally see the elderly in Belize being so open and honest about their past. I wished my grandparents would leave me stories about life’s struggles, especially with the heart. There’s so much we can learn from them. Really looking forward to reading Parchment Pages. What a great thing to leave behind.

  2. Jose Chacon says:

    Its sad that all the good people are leaving.

    My hat off to you, Ms. Fairweather. Will keep you in my prayers.

  3. Randoph Enriquez says:

    Carrie Fairweather Belgrave is a national treasure. While I consider “Parchment” a window into the soul of this truly remarkable woman, the view will be etched in our minds sunwandan. Seremein Carrie.

  4. shakira says:

    i love you gran!

  5. Ernest Brannon Jr says:

    Ms Carrie I have known you a very longtime during your years in the travel business in New York and never knew it was in you as a poet and actress, but God is good always looking forward to read your book…..CONGRATS……ALL THE BEST WITH YOUR HEALTH.

  6. dash says:

    Don’t let this lady foul you. She is no victim, her two other husbands (Fairweather and McKenzie) are the victims. She has been a very fateful person and continues to be, beginning from her early childhood. She has married 3 times and said lots of bad things about her first husband. Her mother had lots of children and was extremely poor so she gave away most of her children, so when this lady married her first husband she married up. But the way she has told her story one would think differently. Just saying that she needs to tell the hole truth.

  7. dash says:

    Don’t let this lady fool you. She is no victim, her two other husbands (Fairweather and McKenzie) are the victims. She has been a very hateful person and continues to be, beginning from her early childhood. She has married 3 times and said lots of bad things about her first husband. Her mother had lots of children and was extremely poor so she gave away most of her children, so when this lady married her first husband she married up. But the way she has told her story one would think differently. Just saying that she needs to tell the hole truth.

  8. Mrs Josephine Faux says:

    Just last week I loan a friend a the ” Noh Matta Wat ” Collection. Who just finish Chemo and it was up lifting for her. To come and read this now makes my heart sad. As the old saying goes ” Nothing good last for ever” In these series you made it so real of what everyday life is for many single women and what they go trough not only in Belize, but through out the world trying to make life better for their children. One connects with the creole dioluge if you are from Belize and living her in the US, it take you way back hearing the older folks talking and giving advice to family members and friends who need a word of encouragement. May God give you the courage as well as the strength to go trough this troubling time, you were a gift and a treasure to Belize your legacy will live true you tapes, poms and books. I will keep you in my pray and put on our pray list at church.

  9. Emz says:

    To Dash,
    Maybe by watching the documentary you will expand your knowledge of the situation-she does tell HER whole story of course each person has their own perspective and as she mentions each of her prior husbands (who were both abusive) have their own interpretations of the experiences that they can share.
    By the way not because someone ‘married up’ means the spouse is not abusive, money does not make abuse allowable!
    “The evils of the body are, murder, theft, and adultery; of the tongue, lying, SLANDER, abuse, and idle talk; of the mind, covetousness, hatred, and error.”
    Buddha quotes
    “Slander is the revenge of a coward, and dissimulation his defense”
    “Society is a republic. When an individual tries to lift themselves above others, they are dragged down by the mass, either by ridicule or slander.”
    Victor Hugo quotes
    “Slander cannot destroy an honest man – when the flood recedes the rock is there”
    Chinese Proverbs quotes

  10. Martinique says:

    I can’t wait to get my own copy! My hat is off to such a courageous woman!!

  11. shi says:

    Thank you Emz b/c I almost lost my cool when I read Dash comment

  12. Yola Robateau says:

    Dear Dash,
    When you are not privy to a person’s private details, all you do is make speculations. That means that you are assuming that what you contribute to a conversation warrants merit. Or in simple terms you think is true, with facts. Nevertheless, you are entitled to an opinion though baseless. I don’t really need to defend your comments on my mother’s or siblings behalf because I know all parties personally. So whoever you are and however you arrived at “your truth/opinion” is irrelevant. Too bad your ignorance supercedes your intellect and your abilities to express yourself with reason escapes you. Ignorace they say is bliss. I would suggest, that you take time to “know” truth and expose lies at all cost. That is far more admirable and respectful to the gains of humanity. Scripture says, “know the Truth and the Truth will make you free.” When you know truth you will never be ashamed of what you say.
    p.s. when you are so anxious to express yourself, take the time to learn how to spell. It means you have taken the time to think through your thoughts and can defend them with dignity.
    God Bless you.

  13. Dash says:

    Look, my mother gave this lady her hard earn money for a plane ticket to NY and paid bus and taxi money to go to Belize Int’l Airport and stayed there waiting for a charter plane that this lady said was coming to Belize to take her and other people to NY and the plane never came. This lady never called my mother to say she was sorry or give my mother back her money. My typing error doesn’t change the truth YR.

  14. OriginalWoman says:

    Dash your mother’s experience with Ms. Carrie does not sound good, but you posted a lot of untruths. First, about my great-grandmother Mrs. Esther Forman. She DID NOT give most of her children away, two stayed with my grandmother Mrs. Bowden (Carrie’s oldest sibling) and my grandfather Mr. Bowden, temporarily, and one stayed with her godparents (that is 3 out of 9 children, not MOST AS YOU STATED)….As for being poor…is that a crime??? Most of us come from humble beginings and have been assisted by other family members, or non family members. This is a good thing. It is called kindness. In spite of the POORNESS, we ARE a CLOSE KNITTED family. All of my great-grandmother’s 9 children (of whom aunt Carrie is the youngest) remained very close, in spite of being poor. This closeness still exists today. Growing up I was always envied by my friends, because of the closeness of my family, and in spite of it being big, we remained close and supportive. Aunt Carrie’s house on Decatur Street in Brooklyn is where we would gather on Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc. Many times the children and grandchildren would bring or invite friends too. My friends always loved being around my family, and we all had good times together. I treasure those memories. Some of which comes from the stories they told about their lives growing up. As tough as it was, their love for each other was evident. And it is the one thing they passed on to us FAMILY LOVE AND SUPPORT, that is their legacy.

    I know my aunt is tough, in fact the toughest of all her siblings. But, don’t mistake her toughness for hate. You have not walked in her shoes. She left Belize at a very young age, to improve her life in America….then she returned to Belize to give back, some of what she earned. A hater would have stayed away permanently like so many Belizeans who live abroad do.

  15. Zaziiz S. L. Dinkins says:

    To Dash – So what’s the problem here Dash? First of all if you’re really about the truth then let’s be truthful and honest… first and foremost you need to reveal your true identity and stop hiding behind the name Dash… what? are you scared to show your real name? and let’s put the cards on the table… if your mother missed out on a plane ride like you said she did you should have resolved the issue when it happened… and I’m sure it probably was resolved… because I worked closely with my Aunt for years and I can vouch for her that she always went overboard to please her customers… she was not the type of person to leave anyone hanging… and what is it that you have to gain by discrediting her and my Grandmother’s good name anyhow… seems like you have displaced anger… what is all the envy and hatred all about? seems like you have some alterior motives or some underlying issues that you’re hiding… why would you talk about her childhood and her marriages?… what is it to you? seems to me that you’re simply a mean spirited, envious, and devious individual… if you envy my Aunt because God has blessed her then you need to take that up with God.. go to God in prayer… you need to get connected with him so you can find out what your gift or gifts are… for we’ve all been blessed in one way or another… you just need to get connected with the Spirit of the Living God so you can tap into your gifts and find out what your blessings are… and who are you to condemn my Grandmother anyway?… even if it’s true that she was poor… so what? when did poverty become a crime? did she ever take food out of you or your family’s mouth? or did she ever come to your door begging? I doubt it… even if she did you should have had enough God in you to show her some kindness… Jesus Christ was rich… yet he became poor for our sakes…he came that we might have life and have it more abundantly… he died that we might live… do you know him? additionally… I’d have you to know that a man’s life does not consist of the things he possess… since you appear to think that my Aunt and Grandmother was beneath you… what are you going to do when your soul is required? you need to learn real truth and the truth will set you free… also who are you to judge?… the bible says judge not that ye be not judge… only God can judge… listen here… there’s nothing you can do to discredit my Aunt’s good name…her name will go down in Belizean History for the many contributions she made to the Belizean Community… in my opinion Belize needs to name a highway or something after her… as a matter of fact they probably should rename the Barron Bliss Institute after her for the great leader she was… yes… you heard me right… she made many accomplishments in her lifetime and a significant impact on the lives of Belizeans… her work speaks for her and no one can take that from her… she certainly made her mark on Belize and there’s nothing you can do about it… too bad if you’re a hater… you need to resolve your issues or let go of them or they will destroy you… if you need help I’ll help you… just telll me what your issues are and I’ll pray with and for you… God hears a sincere prayer… bring it on… I’m all ears… you can write me at zaziizdinkins@yahoo.com… just know that I love my Aunt and my Grandmother and all my family and I’m not going to stand and listen to you discredit and disrespect them without saying anything… I’ll certainly defend them to the end… Have a blessed day!

  16. Zaziiz S. L. Dinkins says:

    Aunt Carrie I am so proud of you… I will have to get copies of your books for my library… I had no idea you had been into writing books while you were in Belize… I did one myself and have some other projects in the making… eventhough I know that you’re not with us physically… I know that your Spirit is still alive because you believed in Jesus and Camella told me you did give your life to him a long time ago… I will always love you… and sure do look forward to meeting you again on the other side…
    May you Rest in Peace!

  17. Duane (Belize long lost son) says:

    First I want to give my condulances to the Family.I just resently found out about Ms Carrie ;she was cool and straight forward.even though I was in you guys lives for a short period of time. the family was very strong.You dont find too many Belizean family that was to me well structured.I remember playing dominos with Mr.Ellis,Ms Carrie and someone else I can’t quite remember.But I had no idea
    she was into poetry.It’s amazing how you get to find out how talented someone can be.As for Dash why do I get the feeling you have a little HATE in you.You can’t stop someone’s Legacy!! She’s now a Legend!!!! NOW DASH GO !@#$ YOURSELF,PLEASE!!!!!!!

  18. Aaron henry says:

    My name is Aaron Henry, I worked for Carrie and Ellis in New York at her Travel Agency, I had move back to Trinidad years ago, she was a very brave and strong lady who had taught me allot, I always think about her and tonight I had decided to google her name to see what she was doing, I am very disappointed that I did not reach out to her before, so sad to her that she has pasted on, may her soul Rest In Peace.

    To her Family and countryman, this lady loved her family and country, you should be very proud of her

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