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SPICE WORDS: AN E- CONVERSATION WITH CULTURE MINISTER ARLEY GILL  

BDN: BIGDRUMNATION, the Grenadian e-journal of arts, culture and ideas, expresses its thanks to you for  agreeing to take part  in this e-conversation. Sir, the inaugural Spice Word Festival and Book Fair is set to run from October 20 to 24: What can you tell us about how this idea was conceived? 

AG: The idea was conceived out of a desire to widen the spectrum of cultural appreciation in Grenada.  Our culture is the way we live, but we have limited the cultural art forms that we celebrate. We pay attention primarily to music, song, dance and the carnival arts: The written and the spoken word never get attention and our creative writers are not given the respect and recognition that they deserve. It is an acknowledgement of these realities and a desire to change this obvious oversight that inspired the motivation to conceive this idea.

BDN: What are some of your dreams going into this inaugural festival? 

AG: The biggest dream is the reality that it will happen. It was in the pipeline for more than a year and a half. Many discussions and brainstorming sessions were held to fine tune the concept and the objectives. I must say that it will be a dream to witness more public appreciation for the written and spoken words, to inspire my people to read the works of our Grenadian authors, to inspire our people to read more, to motivate our people to write more, to demonstrate to our people that we are more than capable of entertaining ourselves with our own stories and that we do not have to wait on Hollywood. It will be good for nationhood, if in the very first year we can get our people to be at the very least interested in the work of our writers and storytellers.

BDN: And what must this first festival achieve in order to be crowned a success? 

AG: It must achieve the promotion or create a greater awareness of the work of our writers and storytellers nationally. Commence the construction of a platform for the development of the relevant Art. 

BDN: Do you have any plans in place to assist Grenadian writers?  

AG: This year the ministry of culture published an Anthology of poems called ‘Lyrics from the Cradle’. At the end of the festival, we are going to choose some of the best poems for publication and do a second Anthology for the year. The vision is to assist Grenadian writers in publishing their works. Yes, there is such a plan.

BDN: Minister Gill, do you have any data concerning the reading habits of the Nation?

AG: At present no; I do not have these data. 

BDN: Sir, the Spice Word Festival and Book Fair is bookended by two of the most significant dates in living Grenadian  memory-October 19, the day of the executions at the Fort- and October 25-  the day in 1983 which saw the U.S invasion/ intervention.  Is the Festival meant as a commentary on the two history-changing events? 

AG: The month of October is a historic month in Grenada. There is still so much debate on the October 1983 events that creativity and patriotism are in abundance. We as a people have never really come to  terms with those issues. We have allowed others to be the dominant writers of that period; if this festival would in any way inspire us to write about that period then it will be mission accomplished. 

BDN:  Mr Minister, the work of visual artist Canute “Papa CC” Calliste (1914-2005) has won wide acclaim internationally and yet the artist remains an obscure figure in his own country. Is your Government doing anything to recognize this great son of the soil? 

AG: The Visual Arts, Canute Calliste, and all of our cultural icons are on our radar. Indeed, this inaugural festival will honour one of our cultural icons, Thelma Phillips. We cannot do everything at the same time but rest assured that we are going to address this issue. 

BDN: Literature and the fine arts make good companions. Does the festival provide a spot for Grenadian fine arts expression? 

AG: Not this year, there will be some space for the fine arts at the Camerhogne Folk festival to be held from the 3rd to the 5th of December 2010. However, the vision is to give the fine arts its own space. 

BDN:  Finally, what book by a Grenadian author have you read in the past twelve months?

Too much to mention, here goes:
Pynter Bender                                                   Jacob Ross
White Frock, Coals Dust                                      Lincoln Depradine
The Spectre                                                     Clyde Belfon
For whom the bell tolls and other short stories        Clyde Belfon
Drevey                                                            Michael Degale
Lyrics from the Cradle                                        Anthology ministry of culture
De Red Petticoat                                               Esther O’neale
 

AG: There are others that memory does not permit me at this time to recall. 

BDN:  An impressive list, sir. Thank you very much and good luck.

             

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