Plagiarism has raised its ugly head in Barbados’ premiere creative writing competition, the Frank Collymore Literary Endowment (FCLE), according to chairman of judges Antonio ‘Boo’ Rudder.
Speaking at the 2016 awards ceremony, he gave several examples of immaturity in the submissions, while indicating that one or more of the budding authors had copied the writing of another person or persons and entered it as original.
“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,” Rudder told a shocked audience in the Grand Salle of the Central Bank on Saturday evening.
Plagiarism at the level of FCLE came as a surprise because the endowment is in the name of a Barbadian man of arts, a stage performer, painter, and teacher who had in his classes the likes of George Lamming and the late Austin Tom Clarke.
Since its 1997 beginning, FCLE has awarded creative writers who have gone on to make a name for themselves internationally.
In encouraging annual submission of original pieces, FCLE gives an indication of the expected quality, by stating “your poetry manuscript may be in competition with one by Kamau Brathwaite, your play with one by Winston Farrell, your novel with one by Karen Lord”.
The endowment has on occasion refused to award top and other prizes because of the dissatisfaction of judges with the quality of work submitted.
Rudder noted that the 71 entries for the 2016 competition were six less than the previous year, but questioned whether submissions were falling more on the side of quantity than quality.
“Each year, there is a number of entries that stand tall because of the mastery of craft and skill displayed by the authors in articulating their messages. However, lack of attention to detail and the coherent development of storylines and meticulous editing still raise cause for concern and detract from the positive impact of too many entries,” he said.
Rudder spoke of FCLE workshops for writer improvement, saying “we respectfully suggest that writers should seek to benefit from those opportunities for collective interaction, critical analysis and discussion”.
Last year’s workshop was led by Oonya Kempado, author of the book, All Decent Animals.