WADADLI YOUTH PEN REWARDS CEREMONYThursday 4th April 2013
The Wadadli Youth Pen Prize gives our children and young adults a voice, something not to be taken lightly. They live in a society where the news headlines and the narrative of their lives aren’t all childhood fairytales, anansi, or even jumbie stories. But, as their stories reveal, there is also incest, sexual abuse, family discord, apathy and confusion. So much so that the process of sifting through the entries sometimes has the judges wondering how much of what they’re reading is art imitating life.
The Wadadli Youth Pen Prize has, since 2004, been a platform for the latent literary talent of our young people; a space without judgment or censure where they can grapple in imaginative ways with real life. We’ve seen former winners continue to write, whether in creative or journalistic spaces; and hope that, for those not seeking a literary path, the programme has in some small way helped them to find their voice as well.
We want to continue to be that space where the writing exists for its own sake, its only agenda to encourage the unique yet distinctively Caribbean voice of our young Creatives, especially writers, and to help nurture and showcase their talent.
As Wadadli Pen’s primary activity at this time is a writing challenge, the development of craft is paramount. The selected stories are rarely perfect, there is always room to grow; but they show a spark of possibility that needs to be encouraged. In evaluating the stories and providing constructive criticism to the best of the lot, we hope to encourage our young scribes to embrace the opportunity to grow. We feel there is more outreach yet to be done in this regard and hope to do literary arts workshops in our schools and communities, if we can access the financial and technical support to do so.
The most promising stories and writers to emerge from this year’s Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Challenge will be revealed and recognized this Sunday 7th April, 4 p.m., at the Best of Books. The event will be a joint awards ceremony and book launch (A Certain Paradise which has been receiving positive early notice from readers for its “uncannily accurate” depiction of island life). This year, we can report, that the standout writers hail from all age categories 12 and younger, 13 to 17, 18 to 35, and their themes as usual run the gamut, from fun and fantasy to serious social issues.
As noted, this couldn’t be done without the assistance of individuals, businesses and community groups, and as such I must take the time to thank Barbara Arrindell, Brenda Lee Browne, Floree Williams, Linisa George, Devra Thomas, the Best of Books, Hands Across the Sea, Conrad Luke, Barbuda Express, Stephen B. Shoul, Pamela Arthurton, Art at the Ridge, Diana McCaulay, Diane Browne, Keyonna Beach, Dorbrene O’Marde, Bayhouse Restaurant, Claudia Elizabeth Ruth Francis, Jane Seagull, Marie Elena John, Carol Mitchell, Elaine Spires, the Cushion Club, Koren Norton, Heavenly Java 2 Go, Althea Prince, Kris Rampersad, and one other anonymous donor.
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