2014 Gloria Lyn Memorial Fund prize winner Xavienne Roma Richardson

There are moments in life that catch you off guard. For me, being told I was the winner of the Gloria Lyn Memorial prize was one such moment.

From as far back as I can remember, I’ve always had a love for words. My grandmother was a teacher and so she passed on that love for language to her children who in turn passed it on to theirs. So, my cousins and me (and at a time like this, my grandmother would insert herself and say “You mean ‘my cousins and I’”) always had a special awareness of language, but my love for literature didn’t mature until I got to 6th form and I met my ‘Literatures in English’ lecturer.

She was and continues to be a meaningful figure; a physical embodiment of sensibility and sensitivity. Her look alone suggested a deep awareness and understanding of the world, especially her full head of grey hair. As I continued to study and learn under her guidance, I soon realised that she was as knowledgeable and as understanding as she appeared. And what she did differently was force all her students to think, and to think critically – a practice which is fundamental to the study of Literature, and indeed, to the study of the world. I began to love Literature because I had to think, and I had a voice.

However, loving Literature and studying Literature are two entirely different things, as different as studying Literature and studying Literature at UWI are different. Aside from being a proponent of regional integration, I recognize the value of studying where you live and where you plan to work. I’ll be honest; my passion for Literature is more for its writing than its reading. But it is impossible to deny the need to explore the works of past and present West Indian literary greats.

Is there any better place to learn about the Caribbean than in the Caribbean? I trusted UWI to expose me to writings about myself or as paralleled to my experiences as I could get, and courses in West Indian literature help me to identify my place in our West Indian creative space. This prize not only affirms the worth of the West Indian experience, but also the expression of that experience. As such, I am honoured to be the winner of the inaugural Gloria Lyn Memorial Prize.


  • Gloria Lyn


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