Renowned Cuban poet Nancy Morejón (Granma) writes about her experiences at the Salon du livre international de la Guyane, the recent book fair from November 28 to 30, at Université de Guyane, Campus Trou Biran, in Cayenne, in French Guiana. This year’s honored country at the book fair was Cuba. [Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.] Morejón writes:
Since the Caribbean integrates a civilization, and that civilization does not respond exclusively to a geography, it is a fact that the three Guyanas, located on the edge of powerful rivers, in the northern part of South America, share a common historical experience since the last decade of the fifteenth century. Thus there is a British Guyana, a Dutch one [former Dutch Guiana, Suriname] and another, the one that concerns us, French Guiana [Guyane]. Its area covers 86, 504 square kilometers. A dense forest surrounds its spaces. The language issue is crucial and although the corresponding metropolitan languages are spoken in each one, the truth is that everyday speech among the most humble strata, occurs in the Creole of each identity, according to its variants. There is, on the other hand, an emerging literature that claims its legitimacy.
The most recent edition of the Guyana Book Fair corroborates this truth, as literature and history were central themes. In turn, by also dedicating this edition to the Island of Cuba, its promoters—sponsored by the Promolivres group—were honoring the diversity of Caribbean literary expressions and the Caribbean basin.
A transparent exchange marked the presentations of the four Cuban guests on the outskirts of the capital, specifically in the community of Montjoly, where the regional headquarters of the University is located. Two writers from the island and two others based in France and Portugal ratified a broad and refreshing literary concept. The writers were Lorenzo Lunar, from Santa Clara, a cultivator of the police genre; Karla Suárez, a successful Havana narrator; as well as Joel Franz-Rosell, who fosters literature for children and young people in a rigorous manner, widely accepted by readers in many countries. Karla and Joel’s productions have reached an unquestionable resonance in the book market today. Perhaps the beauty of the immense river that we crossed together, the Saint-Laurent du Maroni, contributed to our improvement and, above all, to the strengthening of our relationships.
Other authors engaged in suggestive interventions on magical realism, as well as the marvelous-real, both fundamental currents to the styles of Gabriel García Márquez and Alejo Carpentier. I learned very much with Brazilians Guiomar de Grammont and Jean-Paul Delfino about the defense of literature as a weapon against predation, oppression, and contempt for the human condition. For their part, Kei Miller and Miguel Bonnefoy delighted researchers in comparative literature.
It is important to record the presence of two great Guyanese literary figures: Elie Stéphenson, founder of the Carbet Prize of the Caribbean in 1990, and Christiane Taubira, who has contributed to illuminating issues related to family and social concerns in the context of slavery in our island environment. Her most recent book, Nuit d’épine [Night of Thorns, in English, and Noche de espinas, in Spanish]—launched at the Fair next to Guadeloupean Estelle Sarah-Bulle and Cuban Karla Suárez—reliably attests to the similarities and contradictions of Caribbean society.
In Matoury, I attended a Spanish class, at the CDI of the Lise Ophion School, where several students recited, in my presence, poems of my own authorship. Seated at the front of the class, I heard a student pronounce, “The eyes of Abel Santamaría are in the garden,” from “Una rosa” [A Rose]. It was a touching and unforgettable moment.
[Please, keep in mind that in Spanish, the concept of three “Guyanas” makes sense, because of the spelling. Translated by Ivette Romero. For the original article (in Spanish), see http://www.granma.cu/opinion/2019-12-08/feria-del-libro-en-guyana-2019-08-12-2019-23-12-31
For article in French, see https://guyane.coconews.com/agenda-guyane/culture/salon-du-livre-international-de-la-guyane-2019.html