New authors are encouraged to keep writing

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Visually impaired first-time author Sharon Joseph receives a plaque from the Minister of Communications in the Office of Prime Minister Symon de Nobriga, during the 13th Annual First-Time Author Appreciation Program, at the Academy of Performing Arts in the University of Trinidad and Tobago, NAPA, Port of Spain on Tuesday. Photo by Angelo Marcelle

Communications Minister Symon De Nobriga said the 61 new authors celebrated by NALIS (the National Library and Information System Authority) at its 13th appreciation ceremony enriched the continuing national bibliography and made further advance the growing national consciousness of Trinidad and Tobago.

Speaking at the ceremony at UTT’s Academy of Performing Arts on Tuesday, De Nobriga noted that the 61 authors range in age from 25 to 75 and come from a wide variety of backgrounds and demographics.

He said 27 were from northern Trinidad, 11 from eastern Trinidad and seven from central and southern Trinidad, including four from Tobago, four from the United States and two from Canada. Their work, he said, spanned all genres, including fiction, non-fiction, poetry, religious and educational material.

“Literature is a mirror that reflects back to us how society works and functions. In the modern world, the role of literature in society takes on increased importance due to the impact it creates by altering, refining and reshaping our thoughts and behaviors. Literature tells our story and recounts not only our current struggles, but also our evolved perspectives on the people, places, and events that also brought us to this particular place in time. In doing so, it also reflects our evolution and growth as individuals and as a whole.

“I can’t tell you how in awe I am of all of you, not just the talent, but the courage, to put your thoughts, to put your words on paper, to create these worlds, to teach these lessons to your readers.”

He said that literature possesses the ability to transport the reader’s mind to a completely different universe full of love, peace, grief and conflict.

“I am firmly convinced that literature, in all its genres, is of paramount importance for the development of modern society. It’s quite heartening to me to note that while today’s tech-savvy world has thrown us into a wide array of entertainment possibilities, it still hasn’t succeeded in dislodging reading as the primary source of recreation.

De Nobriga said children were reading less as their attention spans were taken up by the various forms of entertainment available to them on their electronic devices, and the challenge was how to get them to read more.

“The answer is not to deprive them of their devices, but rather to ensure that their devices are equipped with apps that help them enjoy reading more; and in us, as adults, reading more and encouraging our children to read more. The answer lies in the fact that we tell our stories and write our stories so that future generations can benefit from their story.

He challenged NALIS to extend the appreciation ceremony not only to those who ventured into print work, but to those engaged in producing new work in other media.

NALIS executive director Paula Greene said the 61 authors would add to the 488 TT authors who had been celebrated since the World Book and Copyright Day commemoration program in 2010.

She said that for the past two years, in-person ceremonies have been held with small groups of authors, in accordance with covid19 public health rules, and she was excited to once again be able to host an in-person event.

“The New Author Appreciation Program is important to us at NALIS, given our mandate to preserve information about our national heritage and promote literacy. We firmly believe that books and the written word are sources of empowerment and records of our nation’s history as you see it through your eyes.

She said that as the program has grown, there has been an increase in the number of people publishing in time to be on the first author list in a given period. She said being a first-time author of NALIS has opened doors for many of the previous cohort, with several authors being featured in local and regional press, at the first authors’ exhibition and on NALIS website.

“Through our corporate Emerging Author Appreciation Program, hosted across our network of libraries, authors have the opportunity to host book readings, book signings, book talks and tours. We therefore encourage you to seize these opportunities when they arise. Also, we encourage you all to keep writing.

Each participant received a plaque bearing their name and the name of their book. A list of authors and their works is available at www.nalis.gov.tt

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