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A.J Seymour inducted in National Library’s Hall of Fame

A.J Seymour’s daughter, Ms Joan Seymour, unveiled by Chief Liberian (Ag), Emiley King Petamber Persaud and other Liberians during the unveiling of the Potrait of A. J Seymour at the National Library, Main and Church Street, Georgetown.

The National Library, in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport has launched its ‘Distinguished Lecture Series’ where one of Guyana’s literary icons, Arthur  James Seymour was inducted in the Library’s Hall of Fame as part of events to mark the birth centenary of the late poet, essayist and memoirist.

A portrait was unveiled by Seymour’s daughter, Joan Seymour, while a plaque to commemorate the Library’s Hall of Fame was also revealed by Chief Librarian (Ag), Emily King and writer, Petamber Persaud to mark the event held on January 15, 2014.

A. J Seymour was the founder of Kyk-Over-Al, a literary journal named for an early Dutch fort on the Essequibo River in 1945, and is also known for publishing and editing Guyanese poetry.

During a lecture on Kyk-Over-Al at the Library’s Conference Room, Church and Middle Street, Georgetown, Professor Jacqueline De Weever lauded the Caribbean Press for republishing Kyk-Over-Al.

Professor De Weever said that the new edition is in recognition of the importance of not just literary studies, but for people in general to know about their heritage.

“Sometimes in these parts of the world, we think we don’t have a literary heritage or a musical heritage in the sense that it is talked about in the north, but we do have our own, and we are the ones who have to keep it alive,” the Professor pointed out.

Kyk-Over-Al, according to the Professor, was at the centre of Seymour’s heart, noting that the book is quite significant since it has exceeded its reviews when it celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1995, explaining that in the US a poetry magazine is vulnerable at 25 years.

 “Kyk-Over-Al is at the start of my own intellectual life because there I met Caribbean writers…I look at the front cover of any issue of Kyk, shows names of writers who have achieved world recognition, including our very own Edgar Mittelholzer,” Professor De Weever said.

Kyk-Over-Al reviews became a home, a place where writers were assured and are nurtured before their work became mainstream she said, and challenged the Ministry to continue on the tradition of the small Kyk-Over-Al reviews.

 “The reviews must not be big, the small format encourages intimacy between the writers and the readers….the  Ministry of Culture is republishing these books, which gives access  and encourages scholars, writers and general readers who want a connection with a poem of their own time and culture and also simply for pleasure,” she said.

A collection of the republished Kyk-Over-Al books was handed over to De Weever by prizewinning novelist, poet and playwright Ian McDonald.