The literary arts in Barbados is now on a firmer footing thanks to a Bds$1,000,000 donation dedicated to writers and their development.
Central Bank of Barbados Governor, Cleviston Haynes over the weekend announced the gift, that equates to US$500,000, that will be used as an investment trust fund to supplement work of the island’s premier scheme for annual writing competition and writer’s development, the Frank Collymore Literary Endowment, (FCLE) which will receive all dividends.
This sizeable enticement for Barbadians to further let loose their creative imaginations should be a welcome contribution for authors because a common cry among artistes on the island, in other developing and in Third World countries, is that the absence of material rewards for their work reflects scant respect for such productions.
Haynes chose to make the announcement at the 21st FCLE annual prize-giving ceremony where the second and third place winners for the 2018 competition were announced.
There was no first prize winner at this ceremony owing to an uncompromising standard set by FCLE judges. This is the third time in the Endowment’s 21 years of competition that a first prize was not awarded.
Second prize went to UWI Professor Emeritus Hazel Simmons-McDonald for ‘A Collection of Short Stories,’ and Poet Sonia Williams, for the second consecutive year, won third prize for her poetry collection ‘On Livity.’
The Central Bank initiated this competition in the name of one of the island’s foremost poets, Frank Collymore, and sponsored the prizes totalling just under US$20,000 annually along with supporting writing workshops.
The trust fund gift is an addition to those prizes and workshop support, and some of the money earned will go towards two annual scholarships for Barbadians in the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Creative Writing programme.
Haynes noted that the fund comes amidst the turbulence of the island’s economic adjustment and suggested now is the time for writers to document the pain and joys of this period.
“These circumstances offer the potential for enlightening and informative poetry, prose, plays and films because they embody the vagaries of life, change, challenges, hurt, conflict, highs and lows.
“You must tell our story, past, present, and future, of Barbados’ Economic Recovery and Transformation so that we never forget these efforts at rebuilding our economy and our children and their offspring know of the sacrifices so many of us made for our country,”
Chief FCLE judge, a Barbadian Poet Laureate herself, Esther Phillips said that the current trying economic conditions can serve as an impetus for writing, and that incentives from the fund would serve as an added encouragement.
“It is possible that in these lean years, more Barbadians will write as a means expressing their struggles and frustrations.”