Friday, April 19, 2024

‘Everything’s possible in literature’


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THE LITERARY ARTS remain alive and well in Barbados.
Last Saturday night, four authors were honoured at the 16th annual Frank Collymore Literary Endowment (FCLE) awards ceremony, which took place in the Frank Collymore Hall of the Tom Adams Financial Centre, The City.
They were: Kamau Brathwaite, who won top award for The Lazarus Poems; Ronald Williams, who came in second with The Memoir as well as earning the Prime Minister’s Award; Mark Ramsay, third with Generations With The World In Our Mouths who also won the John Wickham Award, and Sonia Peter who earned an honourable mention for Seed Under The Leaf.
Brathwaite was unable to attend the ceremony, but his award was collected by his wife Beverley Brathwaite.
Central Bank representative on the FCLE committee and manager of the Frank Collymore Hall, Fran Wickham, said interest was high and numerous young people were involved in the programme.
“Youth are turning out as many of them like the spoken word component. Plus, the $20 000 worth of prizes is also an incentive in addition to the Prime Minister and John Wickham Awards,” she said.
Wickham said they also held workshops by guest writers which were well attended. The programme, she explained, was in line with the mandate of the Frank Collymore Hall and, by extension, the Central Bank.
“We are the cultural arm of the bank and this event falls into our mandate of supporting culture. The Frank Collymore Hall is not just about shows.”
FCLE chairman, Antonio Rudder, said they were encouraged by the level and competitiveness of the 44 entrants this year. He said the workshops – Writers Helping Writers – were fruitful as criticism, when handled correctly, could lead to writers gaining a greater understanding and appreciation of their roles and to improve ways of expressing and transmitting their messages.
“The recognition that good writers, as creative beings, play a special role in our [society’s] intellectual and spiritual development serves to give an overwhelming sense of responsibility to the work the committee does. It is akin to having a duty of care to treat to this annual project with a clear and clinical focus that will ensure that we diligently execute our role as guardians of the best traditions and the new excursions of Barbadian literary output,” he said.
Rudder also said new editions of the late Frank Collymore’s works – Collected Poems and Rhymed Ruminations On The Fauna Of Barbados – would be made available in schools as a result of Collymore’s widow Ellice asking the committee to have her late husband’s work reprinted.
Featured speaker for the night was Guyanese-born author/actress Pauline Melville, who urged writers not to be defined or constrained by their physical reality as imagination was freedom which should not be defined by sociology.
“Literature is part dream and dreams do not obey the laws of sociology, economics, history or even journalism. Certainly realism is an important strand of literature but it is not the only one, and powerful myths and stories from many different sources have often influenced writers and have been used by them to illuminate the human condition.
“That is the fundamental purpose of literature – to illuminate the human condition. There is nothing more revolutionary than the imagination and it cannot be taken away from us, whether we are in a palace or a prison. All we have to do is emancipate ourselves from mental slavery and free our minds. In literature, everything is possible,” she said.


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