List of top 100 Caribbean books to be compiled
So far, fifteen writers from abroad including Nobel Prize Winner Derek Walcott have confirmed their attendance for various aspects of Carifesta, according to Petamber Persaud, Head of the Sub-committee in charge of Literary Arts.
The other foreign writers who have confirmed their participation are George Lamming (Barbados), Canadian-based Barbadian Austin Clarke, Nancy Morejon (Cuba), Harry Sealy (Dominica), Cynthia McLeod (Suriname), Willi Chen (Trinidad and Tobago) and Marlene St Rose (Trinidad and Tobago and St. Kitts).
Other writers expected to take part are Pauline Melville, Sasenarine Persaud, David Dabydeen, Berkley Semple, Peter Jailall, James Richmond and Ian Mc Donald.
A number of local writers are expected to be featured at the festival including Ruel Johnson, Kojo Mc Pherson and Gentian Miller.
Although Walcott is not scheduled to be actively involved in the Literary Arts Festival, he is expected to be specially honoured by the planning committee at the opening ceremony to launch the festival. According to Persaud, Walcott was specially invited to be part of the symposium and is expected to be the feature speaker at its opening ceremony.
Persaud said that many of the authors involved in the Literary Arts Festival will also feature in the symposium. He explained that as part of the Literary Festivals, the writers will be involved in the four sessions of public readings where various writers will read extracts from their works. The dates scheduled for these readings are the 23rd, 25th, 27th and 29th of August at the Umana Yana. He also said that as part of the festivities over 30 books by both local and overseas writers are expected to be launched.
Persaud explained that writers who have contributed to Caribbean Literature were invited and they include established writers in addition to emerging ones.
He also mentioned that a special effort was made to invite writers that would have been in Guyana for the initial Carifesta in 1972. Persaud singled out Austin Clarke as one writer who fits this category.
When asked about the absence of many of the recent prize-winners of the Guyana Prize for Literature among the confirmed guests, Persaud said that they were all invited but some were unavailable while others were yet to communicate a response. He stated that on the whole, several of the invitees were still to respond to their invitations and he believes that there exists a strong possibility that many more writers will come.
In addition to his responsibilities as Head of the Literary-Arts Sub-committee, Persaud is also overseeing the Carifesta Book Fair committee.
According to him, the main undertaking of this committee is to host a book fair at the National Park. There will also be mobile outreaches where a caravan loaded with books will be travelling to various areas in Guyana including Linden and Albion. Several of the visiting and local writers are expected to travel with the caravan as part of this initiative.
The purpose of the Literary Arts Festival and the Book Exhibition is to promote an interest in literature as well as to celebrate the Caribbean’s rich literary heritage.
As a continuation of these initiatives, plans are on stream to host a regional book fair which will alternate with the hosting of Carifesta. As part of the celebrations, the committee is hoping to complete a list with the 100 top Caribbean books as well as to compile an Honours Roll of the region’s best authors. The compilation of these lists will be decided by members of the general public present at these sessions. (Mark McGowan)