ARTISTIC LICENSE: Since its inception, the National Creative Writing Competition, organized by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC), has been serving as the premier platform for Jamaica’s amateur and gifted poets and storytellers to have their work recognized. But as the agency widens its reach (in its 50th year at that), it’s clear the JCDC wants to move the competition’s offerings to a higher plane. “There is a need to work with some of our younger playwrights to get them to hone their craft. So we are in discussion with some of our judges who have offered themselves to conduct training,” reports literary arts co-ordinator Andrew Brodber via the JIS. ‘We are going to be opening our doors to train some of our amateur writers.” In any case, unearthing literary talent remains the primary objective. “Most of our top writers came through this channel, and we are still here offering what we are able to offer, and that is expert opportunity for persons to know what their work merits.”
WORDS OF WONDER: A master of the craft, Olive Senior sure knows her way around a short story, so the perpetual acclaim for her magical collection Arrival of the Snakewoman and other Stories (1989) is completely justified. 1987’s Summer Lightning, her first collection, remains her best work though – and not just on account of it having the distinction of copping the first-ever Commonwealth Writer’s Prize. Full of lyrical prose, Lightning wins you over with its mesmerizing blend of the past and the present, humour, the musicality of the Jamaican Creole, wit and wisdom. A must-have for any bonafide collector of West Indian literature.
PLAYING THE PART: Having revealed a spiky gift for making the melodramatic and the comedic dance together on the page and on the stage, Angie Binns’ new plays are always cause for much anticipation. The commendably prolific playwright-producer who gave us such sobering eye-openers as Second Chance and last year’s The Trouble with the Johnsons, will unveil yet another tale of complex Jamaicans struggling to get it right in life and love when her newest production, A Small Room, debuts at the Green Gables Theatre in Kingston on May 23, with an accomplished ensemble cast that includes Alwyn Scott, Lisa Williams and Rodney Campbell.
PRIDE OF A NATION: Jamaica’s swaggering domination of athletics in the region and the world at large continued at last month’s Penn Relays in the States (and the earlier CARIFTA Games held in Martinique), where the island’s junior track stars largely outperformed their rivals with flying colours, earning glowing huzzahs from the Jamaican government for the stellar performances. “This latest record-breaking medal performance by our junior athletes shows the depth of their talent and commitment to cementing Jamaica’s top-ranking status in sport,” Minister with responsibility for Sport Natalie Neita-Headley has said. “It not only serves to solidify our already rich track record of success but is excellent preparation for our participation in the Youth Olympics to take place in China later this year.”