The long and short of The Guyana Prize

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IN previous articles on The Guyana Prize for Literature, the focus was mainly on the winning books/manuscripts and their authors. But I was careful to mention that the shortlisted books have had, at the time of judging, the potential to be named winners.

Harold Bascom Churaumani Bissundyal Janice Shinebourne Grace Nichols

It has taken another Guyana Prize season to revisit that comment. Another reason for doing this article is that I am looking forward to the awarding of the 2012 Prize, which is due sometime 2013. Also for me, at this time, it is a sort of an interesting pastime to look back at past winners and those who made the shortlist. (In order to invite you to the party, I have tabulated the particulars of the various shortlists under the following subheads: Year, category, author and publication, for the first ten stagings of The Prize.)

1987
FICTION
Wilson Harris: Carnival
Janice Shinebourne: Timepiece
Harold Bascom: Apata
Grace Nichols: Whole of a Morning Sky
Beryl Gilroy: Frangipani House
Rooplall Monar: Backdam People

POETRY
Fred D’Aguiar: Mama Dot
Marc Matthews: Guyana My Altar
John Agard: Mangoes and Bullets
Cyril Dabydeen: Islands Lovelier than a Vision
Rooplall Monar: Koker
Milton Williams: Years of Fighting Exile

1989
FICTION
Roy Heath: The Shadow Bride
Cyril Dabydeen: To Monkey Jungle
Beryl Gilroy: Boy Sandwich
Angus Richmond: The Open Prison
Janice Shinehourne: The Last English Plantation

POETRY
Martin Carter: Selected Poems
Brian Chan: Thief with a Leaf
David Dabydeen: Coolie Odyssey
Fred D’Aguiar: Airy Hall
Ian McDonald: Mercy Ward
Mahadai Das: ¬Bones

DRAMA
Harold Bascom: Family Budget
Ian Valz: Masquerade
Francis Farrier: Journey to Freedom

1992
FICTION
David Dabydeen: The Intended
Beryl Gilroy: Stedman and Joanna
Rooplall Monar: Janjhat
Noel Williams: The Crying of Rain Birds

POETRY
Ian McDonald: Essequibo
Sadar Asare: Courida Elegies
Marc Matthews: A Season of Sometimes

DRAMA
Michael Gilkes: A Pleasant Career
Harold Bascom: Philbert and Loraine
Jay Bunyan: Children of Two Worlds
Harry Narain: The Eleventh Hour

1994
FICTION
Harischandra Khemraj: Cosmic Dance
Fred D’Aguiar: The Longest Memory
Narmala Sewcharran: Tomorrow is Another Day
David Dabydeen: Disappearance
Churaumani Bissundyal: Whom the Kiskadees Call
Rooplall Monar: Estate People

POETRY
Mark McWatt: The Language of Eldorado
Brian Chan: Fabula Rasa
Ian McDonald: Jaffo: the Calypsonian

DRAMA
Harold Bascom: Two Wrongs

1996
FICTION
Fred D’Aguiar: Dear Future
Denise Harris: Web of Secrets
Meiling Jin: Song of the Boatwoman
David Dabydeen: The Counting House
Andrew A. Munroe: Caribbean Stories
Beryl Gilroy: Inkle and Yarico

POETRY
Grace Nichols: Sunris

DRAMA
Harold Bascom: Makantali
Nigel Rogers: The Haunting of Abraham Solomon

1998
FICTION
Pauline Melville: The Ventriloquist’s Tale
Gokarran Sukdeo: The Silver Lining
Andrew A. Munroe: The Obeah Woman May

POETRY
John Agard: From the Devil’s Pulpit
Dennis Craig: Near the Seashore
Sasenarine Persaud: A Surf of Sparrow’s Songs
Cyril Dabydeen: Discussing Columbus
Fred D’Aguiar: Bill of Rights

DRAMA
Paloma Mohamed: Duene
Ken Danns: December 15
Hubert Devonish: The Starapple, the Hibiscus and the Sugarcane Flower

2000
FICTION
David Dabydeen: A Harlot’s Progress
Moses Nagamootoo: Hendree’s Cure
Raywat Deonandan: Sweet like Salt Water
Roopnandan Singh: Roll-play
Esther McIntosh: The salt of the Earth
Sasenarine Persaud: Canada Geese and Apple Chatney

POETRY
John Agard: Weblines
Maggie Harris: Limbolands
Janet Naidu: Winged Heart

DRAMA
Paloma Mohamed: Father of the Man

2002
FICTION
Ruel Johnson: Ariadne & Other Stories
Deryck Bernard: Going Home and Tales from Guyana
Andrew Miles-Jefferson: The Timehrian

POETRY
Michael Gilkes: Jonestown
Stanley Greaves: Horizons
Ruel Johnson:  The Enormous Night
Sasenarine Persaud: The Hungry Sailor

2004
FICTION
David Dabydeen: Our Lady of Demerara
Fred D’Aguiar: Bethany Bettany
Denise Harris: In Remembrance of Her
Jan Lowe Shinebourne: The Godmother and Other Stories

POETRY
Ian McDonald: Between Silence and Silence
Berkley Semple: Lamplight Teller
Elly Niland: In Retrospect
Julie Hinds: Insight
James Bond: Moods: Pages in the Light
Cecil Rupnarine: Upriver

DRAMA
Paloma Mohamed: Nancy Story

2006
FICTION
Cyril Dabydeen: Drums of my Flesh
Mark McWatt: Suspended Sentences
Ryhaan Shah: A Silent Life
Clive Sankardayal: The Brown Curtains

POETRY
Elly Niland: Cornerstones
Berkeley Semple: The Solo Flyer

DRAMA
Michael Gilkes: The Last of the Redmen
Ronan Blaze: For Love of Aidana Soroya

It is difficult to get hold of all the books that contributed to the shaping of Guyanese Literature. It is difficult to know about all the books published on Guyana. It is difficult even to list all the books on Guyana. It is difficult to know all the books written on Guyana by Guyanese. It is even difficult to list all the books on Guyana, published in Guyana.
There are many and varied reasons for these difficulties, despite several attempts to bring Guyanese Literature to book, via the efforts of McDowell, A. J. Seymour, Joel Benjamin, Lal Balkaran, and yours truly.
Oh! But whatever has happened to those ‘promising’ writers mentioned in the shortlists!

(To respond to this author, either call him on (592) 226-0065 or send him an email: oraltradition2002@yahoo.com)

What’s Happening:

•    For copies of ‘From Historical Paths to the Cultural Processes between Brazil and Guyana’, contact the University of Guyana.
•    For copies of the docudrama, ‘The Legend of Balgobin’, contact the Centre for Communication Studies, University of Guyana. This 14-minute docudrama is based on my book, ‘The Balgobin Saga’.