Do we know our Caribbean Laureates?

Caribbean writers have earned its place in the literary community, as esteemed body writers who master the art literary expression through creativity. This is evident in the volume, quality and wealth of materials that are published in and about the Caribbean, by Caribbean people. We can boast of having Caribbean Laureates whose work has been internationally acknowledged and recognized. We as Caribbean people would have heard about:

  • Saint John Perse (Guadeloupe)- Poet and Diplomat who was awarded the Nobel prize in 1960.
  • Sir Arthur Lewis (St. Lucia)- A professor emeritus of political economy at Princeton. He won a Nobel Prize in 1979 for pioneering research on economic development in emerging countries.
  • Derick Walcott (St. Lucia)- Described as the “Caribbean Community’s greatest poet, playwright and theatrical director”. He received the coveted Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992.
  • Vidiadhar Surajpra-sad Naipaul(Trinidad) – Regarded as a cosmopolitan writer because of the many genres he has contributed to. He won numerous literary awards inclusive of the Nobel Prize in 2001.

But how many of us know of the female Caribbean Laureate that came before all of these illustrious writers?

Her name Gabriela Mistral.

Gabriela Mistral (Chile) – was the pseudonym of Lucila Godoy Alcayaga, a Chilean poet-diplomat, educator and feminist. She was the first Latin American to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. She won the Prize in 1945.The central themes in her poetry focused on nature, betrayal, love, a mother’s love, sorrow and recovery, travel, and Latin American identity as formed from a mixture of Native American and European influences.


The Librarian & oral history projects – Reasons & Sources.

Oral history can be best described as a field of study and as a method of gathering, preserving and interpreting the voices and memories of people, communities, and participants in past events.  It is the oldest type of historical inquiry, predating the written word, and also one of the most modern ways of collecting information that cannot be otherwise sourced. Oral History Projects involves the collection of memories and personal commentaries of historical significance through recorded interviews. For librarians, two challenges encountered is determining the need for such a project and where to sources the information to supplement the project.

The conduct of Oral history projects is a pivotal role of librarians, which requires one to determine and justify the need for such a project. The project may be warranted in accordance with three main criteria. These are:

  • The information needs of the community as perceived by the Librarian.
  • Queries that was left unanswered because of lack of information sources.
  • Gaps in the information sources that is available.

Once either or all of these factors can be indentified there is a need for the conduct of an oral history project.

The other challenge directly relates to the sourcing of information for an oral history project. The information required should be attainted from both traditional and non traditional information sources. These include:

  • Interviews conducted with elders in the community giving them a voice and the recognition due. This extends the life span of their truths and their stories.
  • Researchers within the community that gather information related to the theme of the oral research project; inclusive of anthropologist.
  • National libraries / Archives/ Museums.
  • Audio visual sources.
  • Internet and online sources.
  • Information files- Dated newspapers.
  • Authors who wrote during the period relevant to the oral research project.
  • Photographs and calendars.
  • Library catalogues.

This list of source serves as a guide and does not confine researcher of an oral history project to be strictly subjected to it.

Why do Caribbean people write?

Overtime there has been a great amount of writers’ emerging from the Caribbean each with their own style, flow and rhythm that is unique to Caribbean Literature. The works cover limitless genres and even create new genres in it exhibition of creativity and artistic will. Yet, a lot of their works go unheard of and unread, improperly marketed, poorly published and suppressed in a blanketed culture. Still, they write, they publish, constantly expanding our literary riches. Why do Caribbean people write?

Revolutionize to world.

Writing allows Caribbean people to make their mark on the world; to bring new things to life; to mould and present the images of our imagination. They write to not only change the world, but to create a new literary world.

Recognize and reveal meaning.

Writers possess the talent to find meaning, this transcend into their work, helping readers themselves to find substance in literature.  Finding meaning is an integral part of storytelling that matters to the person living it, the person sharing it and to those who can relate to it.  Caribbean people write to bring significance to the world.

Create consciousness.

Writing is the art of bring to life ideas, imagination, perceptions and experiences. Caribbean literature is the craft of sharing these stories seemingly for the first time. People write to make art out ordinary, everyday moments.

Live on.

Caribbean writer write for far more than fame. They write to be a voice; one that can be heard by anyone willing to listen. Their voices can live on long after their death. They contribute to the perseveration of history through their works. This element of motivation comes natural to writers.

Social media as a portal of expression.


The term social media is vastly gaining popularity throughout the globe. This can be described as forms of electronic communication through the use of websites and/or applications which allows users to create and share content. It also facilitates participation in social networking. The perception of social media and its purpose varies from person to person as it does in different societies worldwide. The communication tools are often viewed simply as means of sharing random information and /or opinions. In actuality, social media is much larger than that common interpretation. The magnitude of the communication tools are based on the general perception of the tool. A shift in perception that allows users of social media to view it as instruments of expression rather than trending tools, will make considerable differences in how it is used.

Participation in the social media arena allows users to create, claim and shape their share of cyber space. This is evident in the generation of profiles that can be personalized and identified by selected usernames. In hindsight, social media can also be used to document the past. Information in various formats as previously entered on social media can be referred to in the future.  This capability promotes a digital archive of information that can be used to formulate personal and social timelines. Another critical use of social media is to facilitate the meeting of cultures.  This is attained when people from around the world can express themselves vocally, graphically and otherwise as part of an international conversation. In addition, social media acts as a portal for trend setting, equipping participants with the platform to initiate and transform topics into popular trends. Even though, perceptions may vary the positivity of social media is dependent on utilization.







Negative Library Experiences.

Have you been to a library recently? Did the library staff seem eager to fulfill your information needs? My answers are yes and no respectively. I am currently pursuing a degree in library studies, from the first day of classes I was taught that a librarians job involves being customer or patron oriented. My experience with library staff in recent times have blatantly shown their disregard for their job and lack of professionalism.

This opinion is not intended to offend all library staff but rather those who are guilty of ignoring patrons, displaying facial expressions of  disgust, becoming annoyed when asked questions and unwilling to allocate resources because of the onset of the online public access catalog (OPAC). The list can go on. I have recently been to an academic library- which will remain anonymous- where I approached the circulation desk, requested some attention from the librarian and was ignored for a period of nine minutes twenty two seconds as she was in an intense conversation with another member of staff about what they were having for lunch. I stood there checking the time and asking myself if I was invisible. After her conversation she stood there and watched me until I asked for the material that I came for.Judging from the feedback that I have gotten from fellow library users, it is safe to say that practices and behaviors of these sort is a regular occurrence at the institution.

Trivial matters such as these leads to even greater issues for the library community as we know it. Patrons are left feeling intimidated and  discouraged from using library facilities and have no problem resorting to “good ole google” to  attain information or misinformation in some cases. Library staff need to recognize how important their role as information professionals are, how it affects the lives of others and by extension the society in which they serve. It is important to note that as a library staff you do not only represent your governing body, but  also your community,you  impact society and are representatives of budding professionals like myself. The library is no place to display  attitudes of hostility and unwillingness.