McWatt’s ‘Journey’ reaches Guyana Prize shortlists

Mark McWatt’s poetry collection, The Journey to Le Repentir, has been shortlisted for the Guyana Prize for Literature Best Book of Poetry Award and the inaugural Guyana Prize for Literature Caribbean Award in Poetry.

McWatt is the only writer to feature on both the national and regional shortlists for the awards, which will be presented at a ceremony next Thursday. He is a previous Guyana Prize winner for a previous poetry collection, The Language of Eldorado, as well as his short story collection, Suspended Sentences.

According to a release from the Guyana Prize for Literature Management Committee, the jury for the Guyana Prize for Literature 2010 met at the end of July and decided on the shortlist of finalists in the Best Book of Poetry, Best Book of Fiction, and Best Drama categories. There were no nominations in the Best First Book of Poetry and Best First Book of Fiction categories. The judges noted that although there were several promising first books of fiction, none measured up to the criteria of excellence.

The shortlisted works are:

Mark McWatt

Best Book of Poetry – Brian Chan’s The Gift of Screws; Stanley Greaves’ The Poems Man; Maggie Harris’s After a Visit to a Botanical Garden; Mark McWatt’s The Journey to Le Repentir; Sasenarine Persaud’s In A Boston Night; and Berkley W. Semple’s The Central Station.

Best Book of Fiction – David Dabydeen’s Molly and the Muslim Stick; Karen King-Aribisala’s The Hangman’s Game; and Janice Lowe Shinebourne’s Chinese Women.

Best Drama – Harold Bascom’s Blank Document; Janice Imhoff’s The Changing Hand; and  Grace Nichols’ Blood and Wedding: A Guyana/Caribbean Version of Lorca’s Tragedy.

Meanwhile, the inaugural Guyana Prize for Literature Caribbean Award was adjudicated by a separate jury, from 41 entries from Guyana, Trinidad, Barbados, Haiti, St. Lucia, Jamaica and St. Maarten.

The shortlisted works are:

Fiction – Amanda Smyth’s Black Rock; Diana McCaulay’s Dog-heart; Karen Lord’s Redemption in Indigo; Myriam J. A. Chancy’s The Loneliness of Angels; and Patricia Powell’s The Fullness of Everything.

Poetry – Christian Campbell’s Running the Dusk; Ishion Hutchinson’s Far District; Jennifer Rahim’s Approaching Sabbaths; John Agard’s Clever Backbone; Mark McWatt’s The Journey to Le Repentir; and Vahni Capildeo’s Undraining Sea.

The Committee has said that the creation of the regional award helps the Guyana Prize to further fulfil one of its objectives: “to provide encouragement for the development of good creative writing among Guyanese in particular and Caribbean writers in general.”

The jury for the Guyana Prize comprises: Dr. Victor Ramraj (Chair), Professor in the Department of English, at the University of Calgary; Juanita Cox; Elfrieda Bissember, Curator of the National Art Gallery, Castellani House; Brendan de Caires, writer, critic and researcher; and Louis Regis, lecturer in the Department of Liberal Arts, at the University of the West Indies’ St Augustine Campus.

The jury for the regional award comprises: Dr Funso Aiyejina (Chair), Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Education, at the University of the West Indies’ St Augustine Campus; Dr Stewart Brown, of the Centre of West African Studies, at the University of Birmingham; and Rawle Gibbons, lecturer in the Department of Creative and Festival Art, at the University of the West Indies’ St Augustine Campus. Dr Aiyejina is a writer and has won the Commonwealth Literary Prize, while Dr Brown is a poet and artist, and Gibbons is a dramatist.

At the awards ceremony, the judges would present their reports and the prize-winning authors will read selections from their work. In addition, there will be a special display of the prize-winning entries for previous prizes, along with shortlisted books for 2010. The ceremony would be held at the Savannah Suite of the Pegasus Hotel and it will be open to the public. The proceedings will begin at 7pm.

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