I am delighted to read Mr. Al Creighton’s reply to my letter dated April 30th 2010, pertaining to the issues I raised in my letter about ‘’Former judges of the Guyana Prize for Literature should not be allowed to submit entries’’ published in S/N April 29th 2010.’’
In Mr. Crighton’s ridiculous defence of the Guyana Prize for literature he said: ‘’The rules which apply to international literary awards also apply to the Guyana Prize for Literature.’’
I would like to ask Mr. Creighton, where in the Guyana Prize for Literature brochure can I find the rules I have quoted from the
IMPAC Dublin Literary Award?
Where in the Guyana Prize brochure can one read that former judges and members of the management committee are not allowed to submit entries for the Guyana Prize for literature?
I will answer the question for him, nowhere in the Guyana Prize for Literature brochure is there any law pertaining to judges and members or former members of the management committee not being allowed to enter for the prize.
He goes on to say that Dr. Ian McDonald, stepped down from the management committee, also Dabydeen, Dennis Craig etc.
Why is it that they resigned their position as members of the committee and judges? It’s because they are fully aware that they will submit their entries for the Guyana Prize and win because there are no rules in the prize brochure to disqualify them from submitting their entries. It’s like setting an examination and the examiner himself will write the same exam he sets for his students.
Mr. Editor since these former judges and former members of the management committee were judges of the Guyana Prize for Literature, doesn’t the fact remain that they are fully aware of the literary criteria the contest is being judged by; helped them to write their books to suit the judges’ criteria and thus helped them to emerge as winners.
Can Mr. Creighton inform the Guyanese public about the amount of Guyanese writers living and writing in Guyana against the number of overseas-based Guyanese writers who have won the prize? Only a few Guyanese writers living and working in Guyana have won the prize. The awards are going to Guyanese who have been living over 30-40 years overseas.
Has the Guyana Prize for Literature helped emerging writers living in Guyana? The answer is No. Writers living in Guyana don’t have a publishing house in Guyana to help them get their works published.
That is the reason the overseas-based Guyanese writers are winning the prize all the time. It’s because their books are properly edited and published by international publishers and they have already won several international literary awards abroad. So how can our local writers compete with these fully established and recognised writers? Most of these writers are already British, American and Canadian citizens they never pay tax in Guyana but they are winning tax free US dollars for their books. As far as I am concerned they should be disqualified from entering for the Guyana Prize. That will help our Government to recognise our local literary talents and they can have their books published and recognised in Guyana and abroad.
The last Guyana Prize Awards was held in 2006; Mr. Creighton compared the Guyana Prize to International Literary Awards abroad. Why was the Guyana Prize not held in 2008 since it’s held every two years? Very soon it would be four years, so how can Mr. Creighton compared this disorganised Guyana Prize to the Booker Prize, the Cohen Award, the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award etc? How can he try to say that former judges are entering for international literary awards just the same as the Guyana Prize? I really think he is trying to deceive the Guyanese public who are not aware about literature & literary awards. I have been a judge for several literary awards but can never be an entrant.
Some entrants who have won a Prize at an International Award will sometimes be asked to submit another entry after five years. A winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature will never win that Award again. Some awards like the international poetry society poetry contest will ask for anonymous entries meaning the title alone will be on the entry and not the entrant’s name. The entrant will be asked to fill out an entry form with his name, address, email, phone number etc. separately and send it to the competition organizer with his entry. Only when the winner is declared the name will be revealed. Why can’t we have these same rules for the Guyana Prize? Why the same old game for the past 20 years? Why not change all these rules and regulations of this contest?
My desire is not to criticize and condemn the Guyana Prize but to raise the standard of the prize and the integrity of those who administered the prize. I write this thesis as a published writer both locally and internationally, as an academic, as a teacher of English and Literature and as a Reverend to educate and admonish our nation and the Guyana Prize Committee. My prayers are with you all. I would be delighted to be a judge for this prize in the future.
Rev. Gideon Cecil
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