March 20, 2007 — While the spoken word dominated the Great Hall at UVI's St. Croix Campus on Monday as authors read poems and stories, everyone at the 20th anniversary celebration of "The Caribbean Writer" knew they were there because of the written word.
An international literary anthology published each summer by UVI, "The Caribbean Writer" has touched many lives during its two decades. The magazine's impact was evident from the approximately 75 people that attended Monday's celebration.
Monique Guillory, who gave the welcoming remarks, told how 10 years ago, while in college in New York, she read a review of Lionheart Gal: Life Stories of Jamaican Women, in "The Caribbean Writer." She thought UVI must be a fine institution to put out such a publication.
In her opening remarks, UVI President LaVerne Ragster said, "We reach out to the rest of the world with 'The Caribbean Writer.'"
Founding editor Erika J. Waters, formerly a professor of English at UVI, has published articles and reviews on Caribbean literature for over 25 years. She now teaches at the University of Southern Maine and was recently a Fulbright Scholar in Finland.
Waters spoke about the literary publication's beginnings in 1986 and the struggle to get the effort off the ground. She said that through happenstance she ended up getting help from the Caribbean Research Institute, which helped bring the publication to fruition.
Since that time, almost 14,000 manuscripts have been submitted from every continent on the globe. Waters said, "It is wonderful to see the publication continue to grow and get better. The 20th anniversary for any publication is remarkable."
Current editor Marvin E. Williams, who was teaching in New York when the job opened at UVI, talked about how much the publication has meant to his life. Williams said, "Here is a place that at one time rejected my work, then they accepted me," adding, "Where encouragement lies there is production."
Williams has written numerous stories and wrote the play "Liberated," which was performed at the Caribbean Community Theater last year.
St. Croix author and novelist Edgar Lake read two poems, "To Ghana" and "The Gardening," the latter about Victor Cornelius going to the 1905 World's Fair exhibition in Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen.
Tregenza Roach, originally from St. Kitts but now living on St. Thomas, read two of his poems. Of the first one, called "The Sugar Song," Roach said, "I can imagine how my family must have felt at home in the Virgin Islands when they smelled the molasses just as on St. Kitts."
An award-winning poet with 11 titles to her credit, guest speaker Opal Palmer Adisa said, "We really need to grow our Caribbean writers. They can't remain juvenile, we need to develop programs and nurture them."
Adisa has lectured throughout the United States, Africa and Europe and is a member of the publication's advisory editorial board. A native of Jamaica, Adisa currently teaches creative writing at San Francisco College in California. Adisa said UVI should be the place to launch a master of fine arts program for creative writing. "People learn about the Caribbean through 'The Caribbean Writer,'" she said.
Audience member Kortenay Gardiner said, "I found this evening endlessly inspiring. To have so many beautiful minds in one place."
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.