I have read Gideon Cecil’s letter on May 18, 2018 in the Guyana Chronicle, and I think it requires some clarifications on what the issue should be. The letter is a good biography of the Guyana Prize (GP) but misses the point. The very title ‘Guyana Prize’ was not a true definition from its inception of the perception that the ‘Guyana Prize’ created. The GP was never a testimony of the best literature done in Guyana in any year, or in all areas of literary presentations created in any of the years at any time from its dawn.
First on Al Creighton, Cecil’s remark of Al not being Guyanese is off the mark, frivolous and out of context. I have had differences with Al Creighton, but he has carried the torch of the Arts in the media and no other columnist can find him wanting in the area of consistency and relevance to Guyanese, Caribbean and related art influences.
The initial intention according to Dr. Denis Williams who I shared a discussion with on the Guyana Prize back then, was that it was intended to attract Guyanese talent from overseas to stimulate local talent, it was honest and filled with good intentions, but that concept with its details of workshops etc. did not happen. I never entered as well as many of the talents who have self-published in this country. That it morphed into ‘cliquism’ is not the exclusive fault of Creighton, a parallel observation can be made with the ill-fated Caribbean Press that Frank Anthony presided over a few years ago. Some of the same culprits appeared there also and that was also poorly managed.
The problem lies with the absence of any policy, or the need for it through recognising the creative arts and culture of which national literature is inclusive as having the economic and national development importance and not just as a tolerated annoyance. Any venture left on its own, that has economic benefits and some prestige will summon the creature of cliquism, if not seriously managed as an embryo towards further development.
The concept should continue to exist as ‘The National literary competition’. It will take a break away from the sterile to evolve the cognitive spark to fully comprehend what can be harnessed from a well-managed Guyana Prize, don’t make Al Creighton the scapegoat for far more complicated sins.