High praise for storytellers
THE NATIONAL Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA) 2015 has been yet another successful year for literary arts in Barbados.
And in spite torrential showers last Thursday night, several people journeyed to the Grand Salle, Tom Adams Financial Centre, to celebrate the art form at the Goddard Enterprises Ltd NIFCA Literary Arts gala.
Gathered were winners, entrants, sponsors and fans of literature, who were aptly entertained and enlightened by some of this year’s winning pieces. Among the performers were the joint Governor General’s Award of Excellence awardees Shakirah Bourne, who treated the audience to a recitation of her short story collection In Time Of Need, and Winston Farrell, who recited an extract from Barefoot On Ice.
This season there were 91 entrants in the adult and junior categories. Of those, 63 received medals – four gold, 24 silver and 35 bronze. The adults were the majority of the winners, with 48 medals, while 15 went to the juniors.
Other special prize winners were Carolle Bourne Award to Kwame Slusher for How To Draw Her, the George Lamming Award for literary excellence in prose fiction went to Ediston T. Williams (Peezoff Is Dead), and the Literary Arts Teacher’s prize was presented to Celeste St Hill. Faith Sealy received the Most Promising Junior Writer for her poem I Come From A Rich Heritage and Bright Future and Umsebe Simmons was the Most Promising Junior Writer for The Circus (prose).
The Mustardseed Kids gave a spirited performance of Aliya Trotman’s On A Hot Day.
Congratulating the writers, chief judge Robert Sandiford told them never to stop telling their stories. He defended Barbadian writers against those people who may believe they have nothing important to write about. And he encouraged the men, women and children to continually up their game by mapping more of the world, their lives and traditions than they ever thought they could . . .be it with a poem, a story, essay or script.
“There is a perception at home and further afield that perhaps of a result of so much therapy of art on our local markets that Barbadian writers have nothing important to write about these days, hence Barbadian literature is boring, parochial, out of touch or perhaps a touch too self-regarding. We have plenty of personal narratives, universal themes. If NIFCA is in any way a pyrometre, and it should be, this is not entirely the case.
Sandiford said because Barbados does not have the same social unrest, violent crime or ethnic injustices as some other countries it did not mean “we don’t have our fair share of problems to deal with. And that our writers aren’t seeking to address and reflect some of these in their art”.
“Many of our conflicts, many of our wars are fought as much internally as externally. For instance, Barbadian inhumanity toward the homeless and the poor, the elevation of National Heroes to folk gods and teenage struggles against the predatory adult world. There is also humour, the kind that makes you smile and shake your head in the memory of hopeless childhood friends, the modern migratory habits of Bajans and consequences to the individual and family are still very striking. So is the casual brutality and thoughtless evil of our young.
“These have been some of the themes. . . which the judges have happily encountered in their readings. I say happily because these are great themes. . . because they remind us that Barbadian writing remains as funny, reflective, intellectual, playful, speculative and fairly accessible,” he reiterated. (SDB Media)