Belize Book Industry Association celebrates Book Week Print E-mail
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Thursday, 26 April 2018 00:00

As a singular force promoting books and writing in Belize, the Belize Book Industry Association BBIA has once again celebrated Book Week 2018 in San Ignacio Town.  During an opening ceremony for the ninth annual book week last Friday, the BBIA recognized a new generation of writers for their stellar writing habits at the Cayo Welcome Center.

A total of 27 entries had been submitted to the BBIA, with three coming from the Diaspora and proved so time consuming  to review that the Literary Prize reviewers had to categorize them for the 2016 to 2017 time period.  As for this year, the BBIA will be opening entries for more ‘Novelette’ this June with a closure in December.

In opening the events on Friday, President of the BBIA Felene Swazo described the book as a portal to idea and knowledge.

“As this year’s theme is read it, dream it, live it…”, said Swazo, a ranking member of the Belize National Library Service and Information System.

Dino Emilio Gutierrez was awarded a certificate for being first place in ‘Flash Fiction’ and a thousand dollars courtesy of the National Institute of Culture and History NICH. His 500 word writing is entitled, ‘We Da Belizean.’  Gutierrez is a resident of the Town of San Ignacio. He became an avid writer when he was introduced to writing methods in a course sponsored by the Winsom Foundation. In 2017, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in History with a minor in Literature from the University of Belize. He credits his tertiary education with reinforcing his social and political awareness, and aspires to become an expert in policy so that he can one day influence national affairs.

He writes, “I wanted readers to explore underlying themes such as racism, cultural assimilation, and class conflict. Isolina, the main character of the story, represents the general population that patronizes the supermarkets owned by the Asian community. The young lady, whose father is the storeowner, has adopted the cultural practices of Belizean pop-culture. Their exchange of words leaves us asking ourselves who really are Belizeans.”

Also awarded first place in the poetry genre with a thousand dollars from NICH was Mary Parham and coming in second place in that category was Ivory Kelly.

We spoke at length with Ivory Kelly, a lecturer within the Language and Literature Department at the University of Belize on Friday in an attempt to get a status report on the writing landscape in Belize. Just recently Kelly had visited the Belmopan Baptist High School, the Ecumenical Junior College and a Benque High School to interact with students urging them to take on the rewarding craft of writing.

“There needs to be a reading revolution in this country,” says Ivory Kelly, who is also one of the founding members of the Belize Writer’s Guild. Kelly notes that published writers in Belize cannot succeed without readers and praised the BBIA for its outstanding work over the years.

“The BBIA is also an incredibly important part to improve and increase writing outputs in Belize.” Kelly also said that the primary, secondary and tertiary level institutions must all do their part in introducing creative writing courses.

“At UB in the Language and Literature Department, we are working towards that, adding for this coming August 2018, three creative writing courses in our English program at Associate or Bachelor [Degree Levels]…a lot of it is self-taught, but there is great value from coaching from more experienced writers.”

Also on Friday, Montserrat Casademunt a publisher from Cubola Productions met with aspiring book publishers at the Cayo Welcome Center. There was also a literary evening at the now well established Wildfire ArtZmosphere in San Ignacio Town.