“The way we speak, our language is a living language. We have to give it the respect that it deserves and the acknowledgement.”
Such are the sentiments of Grenadian author and retired judge of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court Rita Joseph-Olivetti.
Joseph-Olivetti was one of five authors featured in the first live streaming “reading recital” organised on August 16 by David Ambrose, lecturer at the TA Marryshow Community College and part of a group seeking to formalise what is expected to become the Grenadian Published Authors (GPA).
Joseph-Olivetti, who writes under the pseudonym Rita Leone, says her first novel The Red Door is written in “Standard English and Grenadian English.” The book includes a glossary, as Grenada has many words of its own.
Ambrose and Joseph-Olivetti were joined by Kamille John, Amy Jones and Kissandra Smith, all of whom read from their published works and noted the importance of the “Grenadian language.”
“I think we’re getting into the mentality more and more where we accept the non-standard variety of English, of Grenadian creole English as a language. I always applaud that,” Ambrose said, observing that “it speaks of the bilingual nature of our people.”
Poet Kamille John agreed, noting that other Caribbean islands have their own language.
“Having books written with more of the Grenadian way of speaking is good not only just to have it, but the more we write it, we can solidify our language. It becomes a solid language.”
The authors lamented the fact that no Grenadian literature is part of the curriculum in secondary schools. During the discussion with participating viewers, the group recommended novels suitable for secondary students; including Pynter Bender by Jacob Ross, That Time in Bogles by David Ambrose, The Rebellion of Mary Magdelene by Kissandra Smith and Chains That Bind by Amy Jones.
Ambrose told The Grenadian Voice that individual authors have, over the years, approached officials in the Ministry of Education to have their books considered for the curriculum; but to no avail.
Minister of Education Emmalin Pierre said implementation of eBooks opens new opportunities for the inclusion of local publications.
In an interview with The Grenadian Voice on Monday, Minister Pierre suggested that the writers group should make a submission for her attention with their recommendations.
Currently, the writers are preparing the by-laws for the GPA. Upon learning of the Minister’s request for a submission on recommended books authored by Grenadians, Ambrose was elated.
“I am really happy to hear that. We are going to go forward and prepare a list with supporting arguments,” he said. Not only will such inclusions in the curriculum “teach Grenadians to be proud of our language, it will bring students up to date with our traditions and heritage.”
Many of the stories written by Grenadians “bring up part of our history that a lot of children don’t know about,” he added.
Ambrose estimates there are approximately 50 Grenadian authors living here and another 20-plus living abroad.