This collaboration was born one year ago after returning home from a trip to Guatemala. I felt nostalgic, as I always do every time I come back. On that trip I felt the need to write a short reflection about this feeling. Nostalgia was born.
One day, while browsing through Facebook, I came across some beautiful pictures from a self-taught painter and photographer, who lives in the mountains of Huehuetenango – Los Cuchumatanes, Guatemala. His name is Rigoberto Armando Seb. His photos were beautiful, capturing the Mayan men and women of Guatemala. I decided to send him a message and asked him if he wanted to collaborate on a crazy project– a book of photos and poems. He accepted. After a couple of months, I spoke with two friends, Ana Evelyn Mazariegos and Francisco Cardona. Ana is an internal medicine physician and Francisco is a surgeon. Ana Evelyn happened to be a renowned writer in Guatemala and Francisco an avid photographer so I invited them to join our project and they accepted.
The process of creating this book has been a challenge due to the location and work responsibilities that each of us assume. The three of them live in Guatemala and I live in Savannah, GA. Armando is an art teacher at an art academy in Huehuetenango. Ana Evelyn is a faculty member at the school of medicine of San Carlos University. She is responsible for the logistics of the medical students’ rotations. Francisco can be found from dawn to dusk performing surgeries in the operating room. And I work on public health projects in the USA, Guatemala and Uganda.
After months of emails and whatsapp conversations, we completed our book. This collaboration brought together different points of view about the same subject- Guatemala and its people. Our writing styles and the subjects of the photos are different, but they complement each other well. Some of the poems were derived from the photos and some of the photos were chosen to complement an already written poem. The poetry gave voice to the photograph, and the photograph gave the visual representation to the poem– a beautiful communion between image and language.
This book is a homage to Guatemala and its people- the Maya. The book is organized in chapters. Each chapter of the book concentrates on topics. Each chapter captures a message about something deeper than us. As the reader browses through its pages, he or she is taken through a journey of Guatemala, its people, its customs, and its color– themes that, in a humble manner, were captured by four friends. The book has 232 pages, is in full color and is a coffee-table style book. It will be sold online through Amazon and will also be available in bookstores, such as Barnes and Noble. The initial launch and book signing will be in Guatemala City, on September 28th at the Roza Botran Gallery in Cayala. We are planning to have another book signing in Savannah in mid-November, and a third in Miami in January.
We hope that our children and future grandchildren will appreciate what we want to share with them– a glimpse of Guatemala, the men and women of corn, the country of the eternal spring.
(Editor's note: Dr. Miriam Urizar Rittmeyer, a native of Guatemala City, received her medical degree from the Francisco Marroquin University and earned her PhD in Nutritional Epidemiology from the University of North Carolina. She served nine years as Executive Director of the Community Health Mission in Savannah and currently heads Phalarope, Inc. a non-profit agency which seeks to improve the health of mothers and children in medically-underserved parts of Guatemala and Uganda. Rittmeyer is a true renaissance woman. In addition to the poetry skills she shares in this new book, she is also an accomplished painter and musician, and has created her own line of jewelry and fashion accessories which are sold in area boutiques under the MUNNA label.)