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Sunday, February 12, 2006

Periodicals with a Literary Leaning

Preserving our literary heritage

by Petamber Persaud

EVERY part of a nation’s literature is important to the effective functioning of the whole. However, sometimes, some aspects appear more glamorous or are more glamorised than others. But in the end, the whole is a sum of its parts. Writers are important and so are the readers. The same could be said of playwrights, performing venues and audiences, facilitators and anthologists, editors and publishers, market and copyright.

This article will attempt to show the value of some periodicals with a literary leaning published in Guyana since the late nineteenth century. ‘Some’ because numerous publications appeared for just one issue of which many were undated and with little data available; these may only be of numerical value.

The first publication with a literary leaning was `THE GUIANA MAGAZINE’ which came out in 1860. The 1861 edition of this magazine, which was published locally, carried two short stories dealing with the subjects, cholera and obeah.

`TIMEHRI’, the journal of the Royal Agricultural and Commercial Society was founded in 1882. `TIMEHRI’ was mainly a historical and cultural journal but included samplings of Amerindian Lore, Negro English, book reviews and intriguing travelogues.

The `CHRISTMAS TIDE’, the first substantial literary magazine, surfaced in 1893. When the `TIDE’ went out in the 1950s, it had already set the foundation for other literary periodicals.

However, the next magazine to come on stream was born more of a competitive nature than a collaborative effort. The `TIDE’ was produced by the Argosy while its main rival, the Daily Chronicle, published the `CHRONICLE CHRISTMAS ANNUAL’.

The `CHRONICLE CHRISTMAS ANNUAL’ (now published under the new title `THE GUYANA ANNUAL’) was founded in December 1915. This magazine has outlived many other such publications, undergoing numerous modifications to meet the need of its readership and to carry out its mandate which is to preserve our literary identity and cultural integrity. It has launched the career of numerous writers and more than half of its current issue is devoted to emerging writers. Recent modification to the format of the magazine was the production of reading material for children via the launching of the Henry Josiah Writing Short Story for Children and the Rajkumari Singh Writing Poetry for Children.

In 1916, the little known `INDIAN OPINION’ produced by the British Guiana East Indians Association was launched. Occasionally, it published poems by East Indians.

Three periodicals surfaced in the 1940s. The `PEPPERPOT’ produced by the Bookers Group Ltd, the `CARIBIA’ produced by the British Guiana Lithographic Co. Ltd. in collaboration with Clement Gomes, and `KYKOVERAL’, a product of the British Guiana Writers Association and the British Guiana Union of Cultural Clubs. The first two were short-lived.

`KYKOVERAL’, launched in 1945, was edited by the indomitable litterateur A. J. Seymour. This periodical served Guyana and the Caribbean with distinction, publishing some 500 poems, 400 critical articles, a few short stories and scores of book reviews. However, it became dormant in 1961.

It must be noted that the periodicals mentioned so far enjoyed an international readership because of the nature of our colonial society and the extent of the British Empire; things moved easily among the colonies.

The slack left by the then dormant `KYKOVERAL’ was filled by `NEW WORLD’, `KAIE’, `EXPRESSION’, `PLEXUS’ and a few others of which little data is available.

The `NEW WORLD’ was produced by the New World Associates and edited by David DeCaires. It surfaced and survived (1964 – 1967) during an interesting period of Guyana’s history. A remarkable journal belying its size exposed new poets like Slade Hopkinson, Cyril Dabydeen, Arnold Itwaru, Syl Lowhar, Edwina Melville and Annette Warren, among others. It also featured the poetry and critical articles of the established writers and initiated a short story competition.

`PLEXUS’ and `EXPRESSION’ exposed the works of Balwant Bhagwandin, John Agard, Jan Lo Shinebourne, Marc Matthews and Brian Chan, just to name a few. Rose and Wordsworth McAndrew assisted in the production of the latter.

`KAIE’ came on stream in 1965 and worked up quite a steam until it ceased production in 1985. It was created by the National History and Arts Council covering a wide range of cultural and literary issues. This remarkable journal is a researcher’s delight. `KAIE’ accommodated the works of over forty writers, launching the career of many.

The `GUYANA REVIEW’, a monthly news magazine, created by David Granger in 1993 must be included in this category of periodicals. For it features a regular bookshelf and book review.

By the time (2004) the most recent journal came on the market, the `ARTS JOURNAL’, edited by Ameena Gafoor, there were many other periodicals that appeared and disappeared. Just to list a few: `DAWN’ (1973), `HERITAGE’ (1973), `RELEASE’ (1978), and `TURKEYEN JOURNAL OF THE ARTS’ (1985).

`KYKOVERAL’, re-launched in 1984, went dormant again, a victim of lack of funding and limited readership, among other problems that hamstring any publication in Guyana.

String those periodicals together and find they have kept the flame of our literature alive, in good and bad times, with each succeeding generation of writers benefiting from our recorded literary heritage and building on it in no uncertain manner.


* David Granger & Nigel Westmaas. GUYANESE PERIODICALS

Guyana Chronicle

Posted by jebratt :: Sunday, February 12, 2006 :: 0 comments

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