On Saturday 13th July, on the quiet north coast of Trinidad, the Cropper Foundation hosted the closing ceremony of the 10th residential workshop for Caribbean emerging writers. Twelve writers successfully completed the three-week Residency Programme, joining a literary community of over 180 alumni who have competed to take part in these workshops held so far in Grand Riviere, Toco and Balandra on Trinidad’s northeast coast, on Gasparee Island off Trinidad’s northwest peninsula, and in Tobago.
This year’s workshop focused on fiction, playwriting and poetry and was facilitated by two of the region’s most accomplished literary figures: Professor Emeritus Funso Aiyejina and Dr. Merle Hodge. Since 2000 they have mentored writers from Antigua, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Commonwealth of Dominica, St. Lucia, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Caribbean Diaspora (Canada, France, UK, USA), many of whom have gone on to publish their original creative writing and won a number of international Literary Awards.
The Foundation has worked to create a singular and seminal environment for the strengthening and exploration of Caribbean identity through literature. Hosting fifteen residential workshops in the last 20 years, (10 adult and 5 teenager), the Creative Writers’ Residency is considered one of the most important and influential writing residencies in the region.
“The writers’ workshop is part of The Cropper Foundation’s effort to contribute to the development of the Caribbean on many levels and in different areas of interest. On first glance, it may seem odd that The Cropper Foundation, known for its technical capacity in the field of environment and development, has made the Creative Writers Workshop a core part of its work for 20 years. However, the promotion of the Arts and writing, in particular, is central to the ultimate change that we wish to catalyse in Trinidad and Tobago and the wider Caribbean. The trajectory towards a more sustainable region will depend on good science and policy, of course, but will only be sustained through a cultural shift towards a more empathetic, just and sustainably-minded citizenry.” – Omar Mohammed, CEO, The Cropper Foundation.
The 2019 cohort of writers are: Kerry Belgrave (Barbados); Shrinagar Indra Francis (T&T); Amir Hall (TT/USA); Amanda Haynes (Barbados); Michelle John (TT); Fawzia Kane (TT/UK); Neala Luna (TT); Kerri McNeil (TT); Rawle Nelson (Guyana); Brendon O’Brien (TT); Keir Roopnarine (TT); and Amilcar Sanatan (TT).
Speaking about their experiences this year, participants said that the workshop, “helped me to expand my awareness of how to edit my work, identified my key flaws and potential strengths. The feedback also probed into the mechanics of my writing and guided me to reading materials that can help me improve my craft and scope of inspiration.”
Workshop discussions “spanned the social, cultural and philosophical context of our work and intentions. This was enhanced by the inter-generational nature of the group. We interrogated issues from multiple perspectives, rather than falling into group think. Again, this was expertly guided by our facilitators, who were open to free thinking and lively discussion.”
“The residency provided a community of peers I will treasure, and critical editing skills when it comes to my own work, and the retreat, reflection and inspiration I needed to develop my writing life and career.”
This year’s workshop was supported by Atlantic, the Massy Foundation, Phoenix Park Gas Processors Limited, Risk Management Services Ltd, Charran’s Bookstores, Massy Technologies Ltd, Massy Foods Ltd, Massy Machinery Ltd, Massy Motors Ltd, IGT, Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago, Methanex Trinidad Ltd, Massy Wood Group, and Massy Gas Products Ltd.
For more information on the Cropper Foundation’s Writing Programme, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.