Kerry Belgrave 2016 Frank Collymore Literary Award Winner

ArtsEtc Editor Linda M. Deane with top 2016 Frank Collymore Literary Award winner Kerry Belgrave.  Between them is then Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados DeLisle Worrell, January 2017.

ArtsEtc Editor and 2nd-place Colly winner Linda M. Deane with top awardee Kerry Belgrave. Between them is then Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados DeLisle Worrell. Photo Copyright © 2017 The Barbados Advocate.


THERE WERE some repeat performances for the 2016 Frank Collymore Literary Awards.

The three winners had all taken first place in previous years, but this time Kerry Belgrave came out on top with his poetry collection culture?.

He took home the coveted prize—and $10,000—for his latest effort.

At the awards ceremony January 7, 2017, held in the Grande Salle of the Tom Adams Financial Centre, ArtsEtc Editor Linda M. Deane took second place and $6000 for her linked collection of poems Bridgetown. Carlyon Blackman came in third with $4000 for Sons and Lovers, also poetry.

Deane's Bridgetown earned her her second Prime Minister’s Award, which is given for a work that is particularly Bajan in content and/or theme.

This year's feature address was given by award-winning Barbadian speculative fiction novelist and past Colly recipient Karen Lord.  She spoke on the topic of being and becoming a writer

The Frank Collymore Literary Awards, generally referred to as the Collys, are Barbados’ most lucrative literary competition. All manuscripts submitted to the Frank Collymore Literary Endowment Committee must be unpublished at the time of submission. All judging is blind.

Poetry, as per usual, was the big overall winner this year, but prose wasn’t entirely neglected.  The three honourable mentions were for fiction.

Retired University of the West Indies Professor Emerita Christine Barrow received a nod from the judges for her story collection Black Dogs and the Colour Yellow. NIFCA gold medal winner Justin Holder was recognized for his speculative fiction novel Heaven Hound. Former diplomat and author Peter Laurie’s classically titled novel Dancing to the Music at the End of Time found some favour with the judges.

Since first being awarded in 1998, the top prize in the competition has gone to poetry 13 times (10 outright, 4 joint), prose 6 times (4 outright, 2 joint) and plays twice (each time joint).  In 2010, no first prize was awarded, but joint second place was shared by poetry and play manuscripts.  Two years later, again faced with no clear overall winner, the judges awarded second place to a collection of poetry.  For a list of full results, please see here.

Although the reasons for the ongoing triumph of poetry (or the lack of punch by prose and plays) at the Collys may not have been fully addressed this time out in the chief judge's report, the problem of plagiarism within submissions was. This complaint of the judges may account in part for the dominance of the shortlist by seasoned writers.

"We still see too many pieces that are indicative of hasty preparation and lack of attention to detail, and at times blatant plagiarism that cannot be justified at this level of creative endeavour," said judge chairperson Antonio “Boo” Rudder.

The judges for the competition were DeCarla Applewhaite, Professor Jane Bryce, Ayesha Gibson-Gill, Dana Gilkes, Professor Mark McWatt, Esther Phillips, Christine Rocheford, P. Antonio "Boo" Rudder, Dame Patricia Symmonds, and David "Andy" Taitt.  The citations for the winning manuscripts are as follows:

First Prize—, Kerry Belgrave: “...A collection of poems that looks at the new tech language and the generational and communications break from the old language, and how users of the new language are working in tech to solve the same old problems; suggesting in the end that the change is more apparent than real, that poverty expressed through tech language is the same poverty our grandparents knew.”

Second Prize—Bridgetown, Linda M. Deane: “A geography, of place and people, that knits the country together, from the everyday of a ZR— prosaic hostility, oblivious competition—to the unintended poetry of lovers on the Lewis Wickham, and discovers the grace and gravity of supposedly ordinary lives.”

Third Prize—Sons and Lovers, Carlyon Blackman: “That sorry business: no men in crisis; nothing holding women back—a slightly salacious look at women and the men in their lives, the quiet brutality, the subtle submissions, the unspoken expectations, and the poet’s constant wish for better—unreckoned, everyday—in a collection of poems that never shouts.”

Last updated December 6, 2017.