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Discovering St Lucian Literature Workshop A Resounding Success

Discovering St Lucian Literature Workshop A Resounding Success

On Tuesday, 25th January 2011 the University of the West Indies Open Campus, St Lucia Site hosted a one-day workshop dubbed ‘Discovering St Lucian Literature’ as itscontribution to the 2011 Nobel Laureate Week activities organised by Her Excellency, Dame Pearlette Louisy.

The aim of the workshop was to expose teachers of Literature, Theatre Arts and English Language – and also up and coming young writers - to the plethora of work produced by our  very own St Lucian authors, playwrights, and poets and to ensure that locally  produced literature of all genres finds its rightful place within the classroom.

The workshop, which was graced with the presence of Her Excellency, brought together a wonderful mix of youth and experience.

 After an opening prayer led by Pastor Sherwin Griffith, and a warm welcome from the Mrs Veronica Simon Head of the Open Campus St Lucia Site, the days activities got off the ground.  Setting the stage for the days events was well known St Lucian poet, actor and Lecturer, Kendel Hippolyte, who delivered the feature address.  

His thought provoking words and practical strategies for engendering an appreciation for local literature were very well received by the audience.   Two panel discussions on the major works and themes of St Lucian writers of prose, poetry and drama followed. Sharing the stage were local literary elite Mc Donald Dixon, Gandolph Clair, Jane King Hipolyte, Dr Antonia Mc Donald and Gloria Severin along with one of St Lucia’s most promising young poets, Vladimir Lucien.

The afternoon session took the form of an open forum giving participants the opportunity for their voices to be heard.  The spirited exchange which ensued focused primarily on the struggle involved in teaching literature in the classroom. Of major concern was the ‘Cinderella’ status of Literature vis a vis other so called “more useful” subjects and the need to change the perception that the study of Literature has little value in today’s technology driven world.  The discussion was ably led by St Lucian Lecturer of Literature, Dr Antonia Mc Donald, current Head of the Department of Humanities at the University of St Georges in Grenada.

But perhaps the most exciting component of the workshop was the active participation of a number of local writers as resource persons within the audience.  Not only did their presence add to the richness of the discussions held but a number of them actually read extracts from their works to the participants.  The work presented ranged from Micheal Aubertin’s Neg Mawon and Robert Lee’s pathos filled tribute to earthquake ravaged Haiti to Marcian Jn Pierre’s unique brand of creole poetry; from Lisa Dublin’s impassioned feminist rendition to Vladimir Lucien’s deep reflective ones; from Adrian Augier’s railing against the ‘death’ of literature to a gut wrenching historical account of homegrown violence from Anderson Reynold’s Death by Fire.

 Peripheral, but no less significant were a book and photo exhibition put on by Open Campus Library staff.  The corridors of the Open Campus rivaled many an art gallery with its poignant display of the works and personal biographies of over eighty St Lucian authors.   Also present were representatives from Sunshine Bookshop selling books written by St Lucian authors at specially discounted prices for the occasion. 

The afternoons actitivities were brought to a close with a short presentation by Travis Weeks and a vote of thanks by Veronica Simon who expressed the Open Campus’s especial  gratitude to1st National Bank St  Lucia Limited  for their generous support of the day’s activity.