Winner with De Pen
Graham Bannister came to prominence this year when he delighted a packed Combermere School Hall with In De Pen in the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts finals. Graham was awarded a bronze for his spoken word piece that could have arguably merited a prestigious award.
A chat with Graham revealed that he has an artistic family.
We quickly discovered that Graham’s wife Tammi was the inspiration behind the work produced by the safety manager of Grantley Adams International Airport. Describing herself as a loner, Tammi explained that she expressed herself best through writing.
“I started out writing seriously eight years ago when I came here. But I have been working on little stories and poems from the time I was eight,” the five-time NIFCA literary award winner stated.
At their Cottage Heights home in St George, Tammi showed us the National Cultural Foundation’s Anthology of literary works entitled Winning Words which features 25 pieces of the top artistes who competed in 2011/2012. It includes her short story The Night You Left.
Tammi credits her participation in the Barbados Community College’s creative writing course in 2011 under Robert Sandiford for sharpening her literary skills.
Daughter Maounda, now a second former at the St Michael School also participated in NIFCA in 2011 and was awarded silver and bronze awards for her short stories entered in the Literary section. The trophy for Most Promising Junior Writer (6-11) was also presented to her.
Maounda expressed great pride in her award and was quick to give credit where it was due.
“I went to creative writing class under Celeste St Hill over a period of three years in the Children Fully Alive Programme. She encouraged us and entered us for NIFCA.”
Son, eight–year-old Yannick’s interest is in music and their son expressed a strong passion for drumming but can also play the guitar and keyboards.
Graham noted that while his son was not following the literary tradition of others in the family he seemed to have a keenness for drama and has demonstrated his ability to dramatize various roles. Graham also pointed out that he himself had been exposed to music at Harrison College under the late Janice Millington and had played the timpani in the school’s orchestra. He passed Grade 1 Music on piano with the London School of Music.
Tammi indicated that she used to play tenor steel pan in a band in her homeland Antigua. Graham added that she was also a winner of a national karaoke contest.
With a household filled with a passion for the arts they all have dreams of being the best that they can be in their chosen field and are diligently pursuing their goals.
At the moment Graham, whose inspiration has been kindled by his wife (he followed her to various events where she was performing), continues to be engrossed in the arts. He has written 75 pieces in two years and plans to compete in NIFCA next year.
“I want to do prose, poetry, spoken word. I am also trying my hand at photography and the culinary arts. I also plan on attending any relevant workshops to improve my skills,” he remarked.
Graham is honing his skills at the Good Life Restaurant in Rockley every Thursday night where he hosts ‘Open Mic and Music Appreciation Night’ with various spoken word artistes, including Adrian Greene, whom he lauds for the encouragement and guidance provided in the art form.
Tammi who has had some of her works published online in such magazines as Anansesem, Saint Somewhere and Moko wants to publish her own anthology of children’s stories, and a novel. She is also writing scripts for plays.
Maounda continues to write her short stories but has her eyes fixed on film to the extent that she is working towards studying film later in her career.
Yannick maintains his dream of being a great musician. Dad and mum both endorse this ambition and are committed to making the necessary musical training available to him although in their minds they see him headed for a life in drama as well.
With such an artistic family one could only say: Here comes a complete dramatic outfit!