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Author credits Wayne Brown for his success
Had it not been for the late Wayne Brown, author and media critic Raymond Ramcharitar would not have been the type of writer he is today. This was Ramcharitar’s confession on Tuesday evening at the Medulla Art Gallery in Woodbrook, where he hosted a reading from his collection of fiction The Island Quintet. “I never thought I would be a writer, much less to have written a book. But I really must thank Wayne Brown for challenging me and teaching me how to challenge myself as a writer. He is really responsible for the style of my literary expressions,” said Ramcharitar. Before a small group of writers and artists in attendance, including columnists Dr David Bratt, BC Pires and mas veteran Peter Minshall, Ramcharitar read from the story titled The Artist Dies.
The chosen passages depicted the fusion of culture and art with that added sense of individualism- creative expression, on a non-restricted level. The story in essence, sought to capture the state of art in Trinidad and Tobago and the way local artists are treated or prevented from exploring “out of the box” expressions through art. Ramcharitar said the inspiration behind The Artist Dies came from the story The Hunger Artist, by 20th-century author Franz Kafka, published in 1922. Ramcharitar said the story spoke of an era when there was a type of performer who would starve himself before the public, much to their entertainment. The reading led to a discourse on the topic of art in which the outcome suggested there is still too much insularity existing on the local front when it comes to artists’ creativity. “When you are still being told this is what you can and cannot do as an artist, in fear of not ‘disrespecting’ or ‘offending’ anyone or group, your creativity is stifled.
It is the same with writers. I have managed to not fall prey to this and if that means my books won’t be read by a particular few, that’s quite fine. “The Caribbean person is made up of influences from around the world but we confine ourselves to cane, suffering and slavery. Art and expression have a lot to do with who we are as a people and being able to write from a real place that readers can relate to is important,” said Ramcharitar. He has written several books, among them American Fall and Breaking the News, a provocative study on the state of culture and media in T&T. He has also written a play, Paradiso, which went on to be one of the three winners of the British Warehouse Theatre awards at the 2002 International Playwriting Festival. The Island Quintet, his first fiction collection, consists of four short stories and a novella and was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book in 2010.
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