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Esther Phillips is Barbados’ first ever poet laureate

JOHN SEALY, [email protected]

Esther Phillips is Barbados’ first ever poet laureate

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Literary icon Esther Phillips became the first ever poet laureate of Barbados at a brief ceremony at the offices of Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley this morning.

The honour, made public earlier by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart in Parliament after a Cabinet decision on February 8, was formalised in the handing over ceremony of the instruments by Lashley at the ministry’s conference room at Haggatt Hall, St Michael.

Lashley said the decision was made to bestow the title on Phillips after she was suggested by the local literary community.

It was understood that well-known poet Edward Kamau Brathwaite was originally offered, but he declined given his health and especially the expectations of the office which would be demanding.

Phillips said that Brathwaite “in the Barbadian consciousness would be recognised as the first poet laureate” and she respected him highly.

She said she felt honoured and humbled to be appointed as the first laureate of Barbados, however.

“I want to say that for many years I have laboured in the service of poetry; it is a craft and it has required tremendous commitment and dedication but I am passionate about it,” Phillips said. (JS)