National Cultural Foundation’s Read In halted due to budgetary cuts; Barbadian Literary Society feels snubbed

It appears like what Cool Hand Luke said many years ago has reappeared between the NCF and some Barbadian writers and poets – a lack of communication!

Debbie Callender ran the Read In (in a non-profit capacity) and felt very passionately about it, she called the Bajan Reporter to alert me how there had been no Read In since July, and she would still host a gathering on Independence Square for the last Sunday of September.

While there she planned to hold a eulogy for the passing of the monthly event she had helped to use to promote the Barbadian Literary society, by inviting participants to hold a blank sheet of paper for 60 seconds in silence.

Thereafter she encouraged each poet and writer to place their own thoughts and feelings on those same blank sheets, and Louisa Nurse did so almost immediately, this is her take on the situation in this impromptu poem –

Stemming the Tide

(For the Gathering of Writers, ?Writers on a Mission?)

?We loyal sons and daughter all

Do hereby make it known?

Blank? Blank? Blank?

You blanked me

Like a page waiting for something to be written upon

Like some deafening air silence

You tried to silence

My tongue

My pen

You, the author of the song of this silence

You treat me like some forty-fifth cousin

Like you dis me

Disrespect me

Keeping in the dark

Without just cause

And you said you had my interest at heart

Yet you cut off my life line

And tried to still my tongue and my pen

So I sit here in the silence for one minute with fellow writers

In this eulogy we communicate on what was and what will come

I hang my head for shame

You treat me so ? badly

I care about my family

And I want my family to care about me too

Do not discard me

For if you cut me I will bleed words

That roar like waves crashing to the shore

So we wait and stem the tide.

? Louisa Nurse

Sunday, September 30, 2007

An on-the-spot response to the Song of Silence at the Gathering of Writers in Independence Square, Bridgetown, Barbados (4.00 p.m. ? 6.00 p.m.)

But, Bajan Reporter made the effort to call the NCF’s CEO Ian Estwick to get his view on the matter, he said due to financial restructuring they had to curtail the Read In’s but he did not know why Debbie Callender wasn’t notified.

Further, in the NCF’s Voices’ group e-mail their Literary Officer made an important clarification in a response dated 1st October at 2:00 pm –

Dear Literary Artists,

It is with a heavy heart that I message you today.

I know many of you may have wondered what has become of our favourite
past times such as our Monthly Read In! and Writers’ Clinic.

Due to circumstances beyond my control these two avenues for our
creative expression have had to be postponed for the last 3 months. To
those who have stood stoic and have found means to continue I thank
you and wish you the best of luck.

To others who have felt the pain and found nowhere to turn, I bring
you good news, our NIFCA season will continue with workshops on the
20th October and 17th November at UWI.
I will also post the full calendar of events.

Despite all the challenges, lets make it the best NIFCA ever. Let’s
hope 2008 is brighter and better.


De Carla

Cultural Officer-Literary Arts
National Cultural Foundation

There were offerings from all of the crowd apart from the mourning the loss of the Read In’s; Louisa Nurse saw a photograph from Katy Gash called Abandoned at Bow Road [Ed’s Note – Video Caption an error, sorry Louisa!] and did this poem about it –

The audio is way better now, even got thunder and a siren, LOL! Jody Sandiford is fairly new and read excerpts from his Prodigal Drunk, about a female alcoholic who seems to be behaving more like a paro than a drunkard. He needs to shorten his extracts and lead to the point a bit faster as I could see the audience’s attention was waning a bit.

Nevertheless, Sandra “Seawoman” Sealy was a bit harsh with the newbie and we all have to remember that we all started green at the gills too.

Daria Cave read a portion of her story “Tease Me” which is still at the drafting stages, a tale where the first person narrative shows how the protagonist is lusting after a woman who seems to be unaware of her innate sensuality –

said as she thought
spoke as she felt
and therefore trustworthy

There was also Alex Daniel’s delicious description of a beautifully voluptuous black woman who had no silicon and was an all-natural babe. Jennifer Pollard did her version of Billie Holliday’s “Strange Fruit” while Peter Bowen had a great time with the intimate audience doing a call and response poem “Coop-Coop” which was against people pigeonholing or categorising others without full knowledge of what really makes that individual. Sherron Inniss shocked the audience for a response to man who dissed her character by insinuating she was a prostitute.

The group plans to gather again at the same venue for the last Sunday of October.

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