As one who was shortlisted for the Guyana Prize for Literature in the Best Book of Drama section, I attended the presentation ceremony which was held at the Pegasus Hotel. Frankly I did not know what to expect. What I did find out however was how boring this event really is. Speakers or presenters, take your pick, droned on as they introduced the different categories.
I say droned on because from where I sat to the left of the lectern I only got snatches of what they were imparting to the audience. I figured that the acoustics were bad, and left it at that. When they finally got to the section that I was shortlisted for, I was in for two colossal surprises. The title of my work was wrongly printed on the programme and the presenter Professor McWatt called me Milton Brown, I thought it was funny and I immediately began to laugh; my wife, however, was not amused; she was furious. I wondered if the master of ceremonies Mr Al Creighton heard him, and if he did what did he say to his colleague if anything.
On speaking to the goodly Professor afterwards, I told him I did not know Milton Brown but if I did meet up with him I would tell him that his name had been called in the shortlist parade. The Professor’s reply was to say that he was sorry and all the other things that go when someone is trying to protect themselves after a blunder. Too much paper on his desk, etc, etc ‒ the usual nine yards.
Journalist and writer friends of mine who congratulated me on being shortlisted, to a man and woman told me that they would never enter the competition. Their reasons differ of course, but their final analysis is that they could never win. I have never questioned the integrity of the prize, but after seeing the usual suspects win again and again I begin to wonder, and to say gee, those people can really write, and constantly to boot.
I always felt that a winner of the prize in any category finds out he or she has won on the night of the presentation; how wrong I was. It appears that persons knew they had won long before the presentation.