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Earl Lovelace pushes for literary unity

Published:Sunday | May 29, 2011 | 12:00 AM
Lovelace

Maia Chung, Contributor

Trinidad and Tobago-born writer Earl Lovelace is looking forward to the public's response to his latest work, It's Just Like a Movie.

It was published in January by United Kingdom powerhouse Faber and Faber.

Lovelace's novels include While Gods Are Falling, The Schoolmaster, The Dragon Can't Dance, The Wine of Astonishment and Salt.

It's Just Like a Movie is set in the black power period of the '70s in Trinidad and Tobago where Lovelace sets all his novels.

He said he was proud that strong Caribbean traditions which have died elsewhere in the region, are still vibrant and alive in Trinidad and Tobago.

He cites things like spiritual baptism, the nucleus of his work in his book, The Wine of Astonishment.

He said that the black power global movement brought the Caribbean people's consciousness of themselves as powerful, to the fore - It's Just Like a Movie examines that.

Lovelace was one of the many distinguished writers who attended the second in the biennial series of writers congresses, put on by the Regional Council of Guadeloupe last month.

The congress attracted writers from the French, English, Spanish and Dutch Caribbean, among others areas.

Lovelace didn't just attend the esteemed gathering, but was a significant resource on several panels, which addressed the issues of the conference, through the form of plenary sessions and round-table discussions.

Lovelace was also therecipient of a prize, awarded this year by the Congress of the Association of Caribbean Writers to the writer judged most worthy.

Lovelace won the top spot from a plethora of writers representing almost all the languages of the Caribbean.

In describing the prizewhich was awarded to Lovelace, president of the Regional Council and member of parliament for Guadeloupe, Victorin Lurel, said it was "bestowed by the Regional Council of Guadeloupe, and it is meant to foreshadow the creation of a Grand Literary Prize by the Association of Caribbean Writers, as foreseen by the first Congress, to be conferred at the third Congress in 2013".

Opportunity

Lurel said the first congress, held two years ago, "represented an opportunity to take stock of different schools of thought and trends in literary sensibilities, which had a lasting effect throughout the 20th century on Caribbean literary output".

This year's Congress looked at issues such as literary creation, readership and criticism.

The general theme for the congress was 'Circumstances, conditions and issues of literary creation in the Caribbean'.

Lovelace, in addressing divisions now present among the literary communities of the region, said all Caribbean people need to stop viewing themselves as English, French and Dutch territories.

He suggested that the progress of the region, as accomplished to date - was never defined by maintaining a separatist stance in any area, but our hard won struggles in almost every area, to him, were accomplished through unity.

This history of unity, he suggested, needs to be reclaimed especially in the area of languages, ethnicities or culture.

Lovelace said the problem of separation within the Caribbean literary world needs to be placed in the context of replacing the old colonial order.

He said he was worried by the glaring absence of knowledge of great writers from different territories, even among those writers' communities.