Minister calls for more Guyanese poems in CXC texts By Shauna Jemmott
Guyana Chronicle
June 21, 2004

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MINISTER of Culture Youth and Sports Gail Tiexiera has called for the inclusion of more poems written by Guyanese in English texts used in Caribbean schools and especially by students preparing for the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) examinations.

The Minister made the call while addressing a small gathering at the opening of a three-night poetry recital held in honor of Guyana’s foremost poet the late Martin Carter, at the Umana Yana in Georgetown.

She explained that while she was cruising through a main English text used in schools throughout the Caribbean she noticed that of the fifty selected poems used in the comprehension segments only two were composed by Guyanese poets.

According to her that can threaten the popularity of poems and poets from Guyana, and cause the youths to know little or nothing about the verses and their writers.

“I thought that it was a great shame that our children wouldn’t know many of our poets,” the Minister declared.

She said much of the news on the local media are negative reports about Guyana and its people, and make some people feel that “to be Guyanese is something to be ashamed of”.

According to her, this should not be so but instead those communication channels should play a greater part in highlighting the nation’s “rich history and literary people” to show a more positive Guyana.

“There is so much in Guyana that is so rich that needs to be taken out of the corners,” she pointed out.

She said she hopes the recital staged by Petember Persaud and the Ministry of Culture would have been an excellent attraction to younger students and especially those attending the University of Guyana. She
also looks forward to the staging of similar events by non-governmental organizations, the lower schools, as well as the University of Guyana.
She also announced that her Ministry plans to continuously stage events and have about three grand festivals to celebrate various aspects of Guyanese culture so that locals and foreigners can be aware of the country’s rich cultural diversity. They also plan to take some of the programmes in rural areas where it was observed that many usually support such events.

Bookstores should return books featuring local writers to their shelves, and publications can also be reprinted, the Minister stated, adding that she welcomes suggestions from the public for Guyana’s cultural preservation and development.

Staged with the title, “An Odyssey in Poetry” the readings were staged Monday, Wednesday and

Friday evenings last week, to celebrate Guyanese poetry and poets and to revive the interest of locals in poetry in Guyana.
It featured poems by poetry greats Martin Carter, Laxhmie Kallicharan, J.W. Chinapen, A.J. Seymour, Sheik Sadeek, Rajkumari Singh, Wordsworth McAndrew, Ian McDonald, and John Agard.

Persaud, host of television program Oral Tradition, who is the man behind the poetry reading production, presented a well-researched biography of each featured poet.

The event was staged especially in honor of the late Martin Carter, who was born in the month of June.

“Let us hope that these three nights will make people go back into reading, make sure we have more Guyanese content in reading (books) and in school work.”