Guyana Prize for Literature…says event planned for 2018By Lakhram BhagiratMinister with responsibility for Culture, Youth and Sport, Dr George Norton, on Monday denied claims that the Government withheld funding from the Guyana Prize Committee for the Guyana Prize for Literature awards, which was supposed to be held in July of 2017.Last week, Guyana Times reported that the coalition Government, in what has been described as an unprecedented move, was yet to provide funding for the prestigious Guyana Prize for Literature Awards.Minister with the responsibility for Culture, Dr George NortonHowever, Minister Norton – who was unclear as to why the award ceremony was not held – reiterated that he was “sure” Government would not deliberately withhold funding for the hosting of such an event. He added that he has a vested interest in the Guyana Prize and has been seeking information from both the Secretary to the Committee, Al Creighton and the Cultural Policy Advisor, Ruel Johnson.“I have written Mr Creighton and he is yet to respond and I am also seeking information from Mr Johnson, so if I am directly responsible for the Guyana Prize then we can ensure that it is held this year,” Norton said in an invited comment.The prestigious award ceremony was supposed to be held in July of 2017, with March 31 being the deadline for submissions. However, it is yet to be held since the Government has not released funding for the Guyana Prize Committee to go ahead with the awards.Last week, Creighton noted that the procedures for the prize have been put over to 2018. “The activities that should have taken place have been put over to this year, 2018 so that the other procedures for the prize would be completed in 2018. Basically, everything to do with the completion of the judging and the announcements and so on (remains to be completed),” he stated.He also refused to comment on the issue of funding and did commit to holding the event in 2018, but could not give a proposed date.The Guyana Prize is awarded to writers of Guyanese nationality in several different categories. These categories include Best First Book of Poetry, Best First Book of Fiction, Best Book of Poetry, Best Book of Fiction and Best Book of Drama. Additionally, the Guyana Prize also awards Books of Poetry, Fiction and Drama in separate categories for Caribbean writers.The Guyana Prize for Literature was established in 1987 to provide encouragement for the development of good creative writing among Guyanese in particular and Caribbean writers in general. The Prize is for published books and is open to works by citizens of Caribbean countries: Caricom States, the Commonwealth Caribbean, and the Netherland Antilles.To be eligible for entry, a book must have been written and published in English and for Drama –entries must be full-length plays. For Fiction and Poetry, the publishers must enter works. No more than one work by any author may be entered in each category.Over the years, the Prize has attracted both praise and criticism and would have awarded to several established writers, aiding in the development of the literature sector in Guyana. The judges are pulled from both the foreign and local literary sectors with vast knowledge in literature.