- Caribbean Canadian Literary Awards presented to eight authors
By Neil Armstrong
Eight authors were recently lauded at the My People Caribbean Canadian Literary Awards in Toronto, Canada.
The authors, Ramabai Espinet, Nalo Hopkinson, Jody Nyasha Warner, Olive Senior, Dr. Carl James, Motion, Dwayne Morgan, Althea Prince, all Canadian-based, and international author Earl Lovelace, were recognised for the “work they have done, are doing or are about to do,” said Itah Sadu, co-owner of the bookstore, A Different Booklist.
The bookstore in partnership with the Caribbean Studies Program New College, University of Toronto, were the organizers of the awards presentation.
Prince said that with the award she feels as if her community is acknowledging her and she in turn saluted the work of Sadu and Miguel San Vicente and their bookstore in promoting Caribbean culture.
These sentiments were shared by Senior in her acceptance speech. Prince was born in Antigua and has lived in Canada, the US and England.
She has taught sociology, first at York University and the University of Toronto, and now teaches at Ryerson University-The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education, where she won the Kay Livingstone Award in 2011.
Dr. Prince is known for her work as an essayist and fiction writer. Her new book, In the Black, is an anthology of the writings of several Canadian writers of Caribbean descent.
Senior was born in Jamaica and educated there and Canada. She started her career as a journalist with the Daily Gleaner and later entered the world of publishing.
She was editor of two of the Caribbean’s leading journals - Social and Economic Studies at the University of the West Indies and Jamaica Journal, published by Institute of Jamaica Publications of which she was also managing director.
She left Jamaica in 1989, spent some years in Europe and since 1993 has been based in Toronto. She is the author of short stories, novels, poetry and non-fiction.
Warner is the author of Viola Desmond Won’t Be Budged, a book about Viola Desmond who in 1946 bought a movie ticket at the Roseland Theatre in Nova Scotia.
After settling into a main floor seat, an usher came by and told her to move, because her ticket was only good for the balcony. She offered to pay the difference in price but was refused so she decided not to move and was hauled off to jail.
Motion is an award-winning emcee/poet, playwright, screenwriter & Hip Hop artist. Her fusion of word, sound and drama is a potent mix of the ancient to the futuristic and her lyrical agility has taken her to the stages of Manifesto Jamaica, the Urban Music Awards, CBC Television and HBO Def Poetry Jam.
Morgan, a poet and social entrepreneur, was presented with the award for his role in self-publishing and for having his poetry, The Making of a Man, translated into French.
ANECDOTES AND ACTIVITIES
Morgan is in the process of publishing his 7th book, entitled Everyday Excellence, a book which shares personal stories, anecdotes and activities over the 20 years that he has worked as a poet.
Espinet was born in Trinidad and migrated to Canada in the 1970s. She obtained her first degree from York University, and earned her PhD in Colonial Literature from the University of the West Indies.
In addition to her work as a poet and author of youth and adult fiction, Espinet is a noted academic and activist. Her works of fiction and poetry explore themes related to her Indo-Caribbean roots and aims to re-assert the role of the Indo-Caribbean woman.
Much of her writing is from the perspectives of culturally displaced women striving to obtain a balance. She is a professor of English and Women’s Studies at Seneca College, York University, and the University of Toronto.
Hopkinson is a Jamaican science fiction and fantasy writer and editor who lives in Canada. Her novels, Brown Girl in the Ring, Midnight Robber, The Salt Roads, The New Moon’s Arms and short stories such as those in her collection, Skin Folk, often draw on Caribbean history and language, and its traditions of oral and written storytelling.
She is an associate professor in the department of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside. Dr. James is the director of the York Centre for Education and Community and has been a member of the Faculty of Education since 1993.
He is cross-appointed with the graduate programmes in the department of sociology and the school of social work. He was formerly the affirmative action officer at York University.
A former youth leader and community worker, he has extensive experience with critical ethnography, phenomenology, action research and government and institutional policy analysis.
Dr. James is widely recognized for his work in ethnically and racially diverse communities and for his role, nationally and internationally, in research around equity and identity as related to race, class, gender, racialization, immigration and citizenship.
Trinidadian author, Earl Lovelace, was introduced by Dr. Frank Birbalsingh, who compared him to author, Austin Clarke, saying both authors in the 1960s were trying to define “who we are in the West Indies.”
He said Lovelace uses satire in his episodic writing - with some sentences being half a page long - to present people who are disposed or depressed. “It is important that those of us who do work feel indebted to people who think about us, “ said Lovelace.
He said he writes about rebellion, about people who are against the status quo and wants readers to begin to see people afresh.