SPICE WORDS: AN E- CONVERSATION WITH CULTURE MINISTER
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?
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
What are some of your dreams going into this inaugural
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
And what must this first festival achieve in order to be
crowned a success?
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.
Do you have any plans in place to assist Grenadian
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.
Minister Gill, do you have any data concerning the
reading habits of the Nation?
present no; I do not have these data.
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?
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.
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?
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
Literature and the fine arts make good companions. Does
the festival provide a spot for Grenadian fine arts
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
Finally, what book by a Grenadian author have you read
in the past twelve months?
much to mention, here goes:
White Frock, Coals Dust
For whom the bell tolls and other short
stories Clyde Belfon
Lyrics from the Cradle
Anthology ministry of culture
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.