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Regional Writers’ Conference held in Benque Print E-mail
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Thursday, 18 May 2017 00:00

As part of the recently ended seventh International Festival of Culture held in Benque Viejo del Carmen, a Regional Writers’ Conference was also held at the Mount Carmel High School. Present at this conference were writing luminaries from Belize, Honduras and Guatemala.

Ivory Kelly, English lecturer at the University of Belize, who is about to release her second collection of short stories and has spent much time on the internet promoting and celebrating the work of other Belizean writers, told the audience that there was a paucity of locally produced material. She also said that writers need time to write and that some entity like the National Institute of Culture and History NICH needs to invest in our writers--to take a sabbatical.

Writer Jose Luis Pineda from Honduras reported that the situation in his country is dire and could have been prevented if writers had taken up the task of writing about the violence and corruption from the start. Pineda as well as several writers from the Region also received awards from David Ruiz, a representative from the Benque Viejo based Community of Artists for Cultural & Historical Endeavors (CATCHE) grouping.

Dr. Herman J. Byrd, the Director of the Belize Archives and Records service was the keynote speaker and in his address entitled, ‘The Writer as inspiration for National Unity, Self-Confidence, and Pride,’ encouraged writers to be an inspiration to others. Dr. Byrd referred to writer Franz Omar Fanon, who dedicated his life to writing about “…the psychoanalysis of reconstituting national identity and culture after centuries of colonial domination.”

Dr. Byrd also mentioned to reading drafts of an upcoming trilogy of books by Dr. Joseph Palacio, named The Practicing Anthropologist. Dr. Byrd contends that the works of Dr. Palacio “…has produced the most perceptive studies aimed at grasping the complex layers of the multiculturalism that is hailed as one of our country’s most unique features.”

In essence, Dr. Palacio’s ethno-historical writings of Garifuna culture was and continues to transcend to a revival of Belizean Garifuna culture that has rippled to other cultural groups in Belize, along the coast of Guatemala and Honduras and in the Caribbean Region.

According to Dr. Byrd, “…the Garifuna renaissance is a great testament of the powers of research and writing--this time from the world of non-fiction-- to renew a peoples spiritual and cultural moorings and provide a foundation for profound cultural change built on a new-found sense of individual and collective self-esteem, pride in one’s cultural heritage and a love of the land within which it flourishes.”

Thus; Dr. Byrd encouraged writers not to underestimate the power of the pen and to deepen an appreciation of who we are as Belizeans.

“Such individual and collective self-knowledge is the cornerstone upon which a sturdy national edifice can be constructed and enriched united, confident and proud,” he also said.