Poetry prize winner wants more emphasis placed on promoting literature in St. Lucia

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Poetry prize winner wants more emphasis placed on promoting literature in St. Lucia
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Damien Femi Rene

Saint Lucian writer, Damien Femi Rene, who won this year’s Small Axe Literary Prize Poetry Competition said there is a need for a similar prize in Saint Lucia.

Rene said despite Saint Lucia has many brilliant writers, they are not being motivated enough.

He believes that corporate Saint Lucia should lend some support in helping to create an annual prize.

He told St. Lucia News Online (SNO) in an interview today (Dec. 11) that the government doesn’t have to stand all the expenses of hosting the event, but it could be a joint effort between the public and private sector.

Renee believes this will help to inspire more persons to write and it is something that young writers like him and many others across the island, could look forward to each year.

The regional poetry prize winner said Nobel Laureate Prize Winner Derek Walcott and John Robert Lee, could also be used to network and get people to help establish writing workshops, which could possibly run each year, during summer, to encourage young writers.

Asked to comment on what he thinks should be done to encourage and promote the teaching of literature in schools, Renee said more regional literature should be introduced in the classroom.

“As a secondary school teacher I can tell that many students do not like reading. They hate reading and that make the teachers’ job more difficult,” he explained.

Renee also suggested that since Saint Lucia has universal education, government, through the Ministry of Education, should give serious consideration to introducing more reading at the primary school level.

But most importantly, Renee strongly believes  that people must foster a love for literature, if they want to become good writers. This he said must start at home and parents must encourage their children to read.

“We cannot do that by forcing texts on students. We have to show them themselves that they must read in order to become better writers,” Renee told SNO.

Asked what advice he would give to persons wanting to follow in his footsteps, the English Language teacher said these persons should read all genres of books and look at international standards applied to writing.

Renee told SNO that his goal is to publish his work one day. He is currently working on a short story collection and is also looking to publish his poems. Renee plans to get into novel writing in the future.

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