Students awarded

Awardees Nicholas Roach-Holder (second left), Raquel Griffth (third left) and Mark Ramsay (fourth left), pose with NCF officials Ayesha Gibson-Gill (first left), Andrea Wells (second right) and Sherwin Cumberbatch (right).

Three students have won the 2012 Irving Burgie Award in Literature.

The annual creative writing honours, which were announced during a press conference this afternoon by Cultural Officer for Literary Arts at the National Cultural Foundation, Ayesha Gibson-Gill, have gone to Mark Ramsay, Raquel Griffth and Nicholas Roach-Holder.

This year, joint winners in the tertiary section went to Ramsay and Griffith, with Roach-Holder excelling in the junior category.

Gibson-Gill said the $3,500 first prize was combined with the $1,500 second prize and split between the tertiary winners.

The press conference was held at the NCF’s West Terrace, St. James headquarters.

Ramsay submitted his portfolio in prose, short stories and critical analyses of other people’s critiques, Griffith entered poetry, while Roach-Holder won for his outstanding ability to put story telling on paper with imagery and engagement.

Gibson-Gill noted that the judges were “very’ impressed with the range of writing and raved about the natural voice found in the poetry. She was particularly happy with the response from the 22 or so secondary schools in the island, pointing out that there were only two entries in junior or secondary schools and four from the tertiary.

The cultural officer suggested that the teachers need to be motivated and then they in turn would motivate the students to take part in the competition. This year, she added, the schools – Harrison College, Barbados Community College and Christ Church Foundation School- represented by the three winning students, would be given their own prizes – the Irving Burgie Award Schools’ Challenge Trophy.

“We also recognise that with the burdens the teachers are getting daily, that we need to recognise that it isn’t just the fantastic writing, but it was somebody who took the time out and said ‘Mark, Nicholas, Raquel enter this competition,” she pointed out.

Ramsay, a former Harrisonian and now University of the West Indies student, in commenting on his award, said he always had a keen interest in creative writing, especially considering one of his mentors was his great uncle, the late iconic broadcaster, actor and story teller, Alfred Pragnell.

“I have always had this hunger to write; I want to tell stories and I want people to read the stories. So I have been writing for a few years, but this is the first time I have entered a competition,” he added.

Griffith recounted: “I started writing poetry as an outlet for how I feel about certain things, about life’s experiences. The portfolio was called Beneath the Surface”.

The Barbados Community College student said her poem was a reflection of society.

The other awardee said he was interested in the literary arts from a young age.

“I was always an avid reader. Whenever we were given an essay to write in school, I would always write it and kind of critique it myself; then write it over and write it over and in that way I was my own worse enemy,” the Foundation School prefect stated.

The formal awards ceremony will take place on November 3 at Hilton Barbados and patron Irving Burgie, who wrote the lyrics of the Barbados National Anthem, is expected to attend and present the prizes. (EJ)

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