Al Creighton again lobbies for return of Guyana Prize for Literature

- dismisses ‘people don’t read anymore’ assumption


There are now fresh calls for the revival of the Guyana Prize for Literature, which was founded by former President Desmond Hoyte in 1987 to promote the development of local literature.

The prize was scrapped by Hoyte’s own party, the largest in the APNU+AFC Coalition, just after it won the 2015 general elections over claims of unfair and preferential treatment.

Al Creighton, the Jamaican academic, playwright, and literary critic who served as Secretary to the Prize’s Management Council, has told the News Room that he intends to lobby the Irfaan Ali government to revive the Prize.

Creighton, who also serves as the Head of the Department of Language and Cultural Studies at the University of Guyana, said “the Guyana Prize does not have to remain a thing of the past, we can bring it back.”

“We must find a way to do both in order to sustain the population, we can take care of the flood and the pandemic but still take care of such things as the Guyana Prize,” he said at the launch of two books written by politician Clement Rohee.

The prize was discontinued by APNU+AFC Coalition despite widespread criticism from Creighton and others in the literary community.

The Coalition, led by David Granger, had refused to release funds for the Prize to be continued, forcing a shutdown of the institution.

Some of the criticisms were leveled against the management committee which Creighton previously said had been responsible for immeasurable progress and advancements in the Prize over the years, making it much more multifunctional and helpful to local Guyanese writers than it was in its early years.

“I don’t have time to go into the great details of why these things are so important,” he said.

Meanwhile, he has also dismissed the assumption that “people don’t read anymore.

“(That) ‘people don’t read in the Caribbean, people don’t read in Guyana’ is a generalization and a little hasty to just say and leave it like that,” he said.

He said the facts are that there is a small number of readers in Guyana, whether for education or recreation.

“I’m not going to join the assumption that Guyanese don’t read… the behavior of people is a variable; it is not a constant… so how truthful are these assumptions?”

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