Please provide me space to express my gratitude to the Caribbean Press, David Dabydeen and Lynne Macedo (of Warwick University) for publishing my novel The Dumb and the Brave. Nothing can be more delightful to a writer than when he sees his work in print, especially with the neatness, thoroughness and quality achieved by the Caribbean Press.
I was very doubtful about the Caribbean Press, thinking it will be like many of the attempts that mushroomed and failed in Guyana over the decades, but after seeing the professional editing and presentation by David and Lynne, I bristled with reassurance and exultation that we now have an oasis in the desert of the Caribbean’s publishing passage where writers can pause to drink.
I remember, as a teenager, when I wrote my first novel The Blossoms of Love, how I journeyed and suffered to get it published in the seventies. For three years I spent all my pupil-teacher’s salary to have it typed out and mailed to publishers in England and America, just not to get a reply. After typing and mailing over 20 copies, I gave up, sinking into depression that I would never be published. Finally, I destroyed my last copy. In 1990, I wrote a shorter novel, Whom the Kiskadees Call, and sent it to Peepal Tree Press. Here David Dabydeen and the late Janet Jagan played a vital role to prevail upon Jeremy Poynting to publish this book quickly. It was David who edited the book. My message here to young Guyanese writers is that writing is not an easy profession, and we writers write because of the joy of writing, because of the impulse of our imagination. You will understand this if you read the biographies of such writers as Edgar Mittelholzer and Wilson Harris. With the availability of publishing opportunities today and with such publishing houses as the Caribbean Press and Peepal Tree Press, good young writers of Guyana today will not experience the agonies of the past.
I am presently engaged as an assistant professor at Fiji National University in the Pacific, teaching drama, English and literature. I have shown some of my colleagues my newly published The Dumb and the Brave. They were all awed and marvelled at the quality and substance of the book. One professor told me that he dreamed of having a publishing house in the Pacific like the Caribbean Press. We are very fortunate to have it in Guyana. In the same breath, I would like to thank my friend Vishnu Bisram for helping me to get a job here in the Pacific. His recommendation has carried tremendous weight and respect. He had helped me after I was refused a job at the University of Guyana.
Finally I express condolences to the bereaved family of the late Dr Kampta Karran. Kampta always lives like a diadem in my memory. When everything was going bad for me in Guyana, it was he who helped me to go to America so that I could complete my MFA and doctoral degrees.