Writivism recently published the remarks of the 2013 Writivism Short Story Prize judges regarding submissions on its site. The previously-unreleased comments feature savagely frank evaluations of the general quality of the submissions of the first edition of the prize.
Ugandan writer, Ernest Bazanye, who is also the author of The Ballad of Black Bosco and one of the judges, voiced strong opinions:
“The problem with the arts is that there is a constituency of people who assume that the intention and effort are enough, that wanting to and trying to are sufficient. I have found that there are people who are so enamored of the glamour or prestige they assume comes from being an artist that they pursue these instead of pursuing art itself. They want to be writers. They try to be writers. But they don’t want to write. And they don’t try to write. Instead they just cobble together whatever will pass…and we let them get away with it. Whatever the reason, this is how we ruin our own literature. By allowing people who do not even have the respect for the art, let alone the basics, the very basic skills, to represent it.”
Getting specific difficulty of finding submissions of high quality, Bazanye adds:
“There are typos and mistakes. Everybody makes them. I am sure I have made one or two already. But then there is also flat-out negligence or carelessness or the casual refusal to learn. That is why I rejected most of these stories, they are just bad. Poor grammar and punctuation are criminal. They make a mockery of what we are trying to do as…writers.”
Can we just say that we are glad someone is finally calling out the hawkers of bad writing as “the future” of African literature? Kudos to him for saying what needed to be said.
We do hope this inspires more emerging African writers to get more serious about their craft.
We are definitely sold on this tough love. Way to go, Ernest.
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