Guyana is in serious need of a renaissance
Stabroek News
July 11, 2001

Dear Editor,

Before I begin on what might be a tirade let me first state that the opinions expressed in this letter are not necessarily those held by my colleagues, the members of the Janus Young Writers' Guild.

There has been much buzz and commotion in certain quarters concerning the letters written by Ruel Johnson, the President of the Janus Young Writers' Guild. Understandably, this has been followed by inquiries, suggestions and even irritation, as to why other Guild members have not followed in Mr. Johnson's stride. I can, and only should, speak for myself here. Though I commend the boldness and tenacity of what Ruel is attempting in his letters to the editor, I believe their effectiveness and relevance to be exaggerated. Let me explain.

I believe that Ruel's ascertainment that, thus far, literature, particularly Guyanese literature, has been manipulated into an entertainment for the elite and intellectual, grossly alienated from this Guyanese society is absolutely hitting the nail on the head. The determination of what constitutes Guyanese literature has been left to the unsure and/or insecure hands of an impotent clique; impotent in that many of them have failed to prove that they truly have the desire to change the literary scene of this land.

Where our minds deviate is the importance and priority which Ruel and I place in these letters towards the accomplishment of the Guild's objective. Don't get me wrong - the discourse stimulated by Ruel's audacious letters has proven very enlightening is appreciated by many. However, it is time to move the debate to the next phase. We could all bicker endlessly and fruitlessly as so many other tedious, monotonous, and all too meticulous letters have done in the past. This issue needs to be re-examined. We know that our culture has been on the decline over the last several years; let us examine why. Let us examine why CXC Literature students draw a big, fat blank when they hear the name of Edgar Mittelholzer; why reading is only seen as a school activity; why creative writing is commonly viewed as a feminine occupation; why the Mashramani Dramatic Poetry Competition is not held at the national level when held at all. These questions, and many others, are vastly more essential to the Renaissance 'blurbed' about on the inside of a certain annual holiday publication, than any month-long debate on the validity of expatriate writers (a few letters would have done it, folks)! When we have found the answers to these and many other questions, let us be brave enough to come to some decision and action as to what we can do about these issues.

I cannot think of a single solitary personality in the arts who would not agree that Guyana is in serious need of a renaissance. It seems to me that the Renaissance was more than just a 200-year debate among intellectuals; it swept an entire continent, intellectuals and imbeciles, the nobility and proletariat alike. Nuff said!

In concluding my anomalous rant, I would like to urge anyone who has any lengthy comments on my letter to please, please (I am begging of you) spare the general public from the agony of bush-whacking through a three-column letter of mud-slinging (referring to no one in particular, just the general 'motif') and to send your comments to

Yours faithfully,
Kojo McPherson,
Janus Young Writers' Guild