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Monday, January 18, 2010

And the winners are...

ArtsEtc extends hot congrats to the winners of the 2009 Frank Collymore Literary Endowment. The awards ceremony was held at the Grand Salle, Central Bank in Bridgetown on Saturday, January 9, 2010.

L-r: Ag. Chair of the Frank Collymore Literary Endowment Committee, Boo Rudder, Governor of the Central Bank Mr. DeLisle Worrell, recipient of the Prime Minister’s Award, Lance Bannister, first prizewinner Karen Lord, third prizewinner Heather Barker, and Mrs. DeLisle Worrell. (Absent is second prizewinner, Glenville Lovell who lives overseas.)

Dr. Karen Lord, has set a precedent by becoming the first writer ever to win the top prize two years in a row. Last year, as a newcomer, she won for the speculative fiction novel Redemption in Indigo (due to be published this year). Now she has followed up that triumph with something of similar sci-fi nature, with a romantic twist: The Best of All Possible Worlds. Second place went to novellist and playwright Glenville Lovell for the play Sodom. Third was Heather Barker for the short story collection The Millipede Eats the Mongoose. Dr. Lance Bannister won the Prime Minister’s prize for a short story collection submitted as Barbados Evergreen.

If the winners weren't already fired up by the prospect of their success on the night then they certainly would have been by Dr. George Lamming’s feature address. It was lengthy, but that kind of made up for the fact that we don't see him often enough. We reckon he ought to be out and about a lot more, and addressing younger and non-literary audiences, too.

Anyway, he engaged the Colly crowd and was, by turns, lighthearted, fierce, challenging, humorous; full of dramatic gestures and emphasis as he explained, for example, why reading is a political act. Literature is never just literature, he intoned: it is politics, economics, philosophy, sociology. The 8 hours a day he spends reading are spent not just reading, but understanding and analysing—a lesson taught to him by Frank Collymore himself. Lamming also illustrated how Caribbean writers such as Kamau Brathwaite, Derek Walcott and others have confronted the language of the coloniser face on, turned it on its head to create a new, conquering statements of their own. (No illustrations offered from younger pens, however.)

But he did urge younger writers to engage the “elusive Barbadian audience” where and whenever they can.

The Collys are now in their 12th year. Perhaps it’s time the Endowment Committee considered marking this milestone by publishing an anthology of winning work thus far – and maybe capturing a bit of that elusive audience into the bargain.— LMD

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