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The Caribbean WriterCaribbean Writer Cover
by Dr. Erika Waters

The Caribbean Writer, an annual literary anthology, was founded in response to a need for more literary outlets in the Caribbean and a desire to encourage new writing. Historically, writers in the region had suffered because of the paucity or non-existence of publishing companies, and thus literary magazines had been crucial in the development of early Caribbean literature. By the mid-1980s, however, most were barely publishing, and some had ceased altogether. As an English professor at the University of the Virgin Islands, St. Croix campus, I was concerned about the next generation of writers.

In response, The University of the Virgin Islands launched the first issue of The Caribbean Writer in the spring of 1987 under my editorship. Established writers, such as Nobel laureate Derek Walcott, lent their prestige to an advisory board, and University of the Virgin Islands faculty members, including novelist Merle Hodge, formed the first editorial board.

Today, 15 years later, an estimated 700 writers have seen their works in print, and individuals and libraries all over the world subscribe. The Caribbean Writer has won several awards, including a Pushcart Prize. In 1996, to celebrate the tenth anniversary, The Caribbean Writer sponsored an historic literature conference. That same year, The Caribbean Writer went on-line, and the website now includes an index to volumes 1-14, art from the Virgin Islands, submission guidelines, authors’ biographies, award notices, and texts of featured works ( rps.uvi.edu/CaribbeanWriter/).

The Caribbean Writer has nurtured some important writers over the years. Among them is Haitian-born Edwidge Danticat, first published in 1991. Danticat has gone on to author two novels and a collection of short fiction; she was a finalist for the National Book Award, and the Oprah Book Club chose one of her novels.

The Caribbean Writer also published Julia Alvarez, from the Dominican Republic, as early as volume 1. She, too, has since published novels, a collection of essays, and several volumes of poetry. Other authors who have published in The Caribbean Writer include Marina Budhos, Geoffrey Philp, Opal Palmer Adisa, Zee Edgell, Ian McDonald, E.A. Markham, Jean L. Goulbourne, Kamau Brathwaite, Jennnifer Rahim, Howard Fergus, Marion Bethel, Thomas Reiter, Laurence Lieberman, Willi Chen, and many others.

Cognizant of the multi-lingual Caribbean, The Caribbean Writer publishes translations whenever possible. Examples include translations of poetry and short fiction from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, the Dutch islands, and Surinam.

An interview with a major Caribbean writer is also a regular feature, and among those interviewed to date are Kamau Brathwaite, John Figueroa, Rex Nettleford, Louise Bennett, George Lamming, and Derek Walcott. The upcoming volume 15 will feature an interview with Errol Hill, who has been called the “Father of Caribbean Theatre.”

On average, over 40 books are reviewed in each volume. Although the emphasis is on poetry, fiction, and drama, literary criticism and children’s books are also included. Librarians, particularly, appreciate the 1000-word articles on the latest books in Caribbean literature.

If writers are thinking of submitting their work, they should note the guidelines: “The Caribbean should be central to the work, or the work should reflect a Caribbean heritage, experience or perspective.” All manuscripts should be submitted without names (Submission guidelines explain this procedure.)and all manuscripts are eligible for five awards, one of which is $500. (See the guidelines for details.).

The Caribbean Writer is available at university libraries in the Caribbean and the US, bookstores in the US, Caribbean, and abroad, at Amazon.com —and directly from the University of the Virgin Islands. Email qmars@uvi.edu
or write to:
The Caribbean Writer
University of the Virgin Islands
RR 2, Box 10,000
Kingshill, St. Croix, USVI 00850