Prime Minister David Thompson is pictured discussing the novel, "Whispering of the Trees" with its Barbadian author, Cynthia Wilson, following a presentation ceremony at Ilaro Court.

Prime Minister David Thompson has lauded Barbadian author and cultural icon, Cynthia Wilson, for her outstanding contribution to this island’s artistic development.

His comments came today, during the presentation of her novel, "Whispering of the Trees", at Ilaro Court.

Calling her "a beacon in relation to women’s rights and regional cultural policy, Mr. Thompson said: ??"In every sense of the word, Cynthia Wilson has contributed a lot to the cultural development of Barbados and I am very happy to have her here today."

The Prime Minister noted that Mrs. Wilson was one of the original founders and executors of an important festival, the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts, and commended her for branching out into "a very wide and catholic expanse of artistic and cultural pursuits, including writing, dance, judging and drama."

Mrs. Wilson said she was encouraged to pursue writing by her daughters and expressed regret that poetry did not do very well in the Caribbean. However, she admitted that performance poetry seemed to be more appreciated by the public.

The author stressed that if poetry was encouraged in schools, more persons would pursue this artistic avenue. However, she observed that ???the writing bug’ was beginning to ???bite’ Barbados now.?? "A lot of people are writing, which is really wonderful- I am really very happy about that," she said.

Mrs. Wilson attributed this dramatic change to the recent establishment of a publishing house on the island, Caribbean Chapters Publishing.

Mr. Thompson echoed these sentiments, stating that today many publications were forthcoming.?? "Certainly, since I was Prime Minister, I have participated in an activity to mark the publication of a new book almost every month. …I think that people are using a wide variety of means to publish. So, they are not as stuck on working with the traditional publishers.?? They can use internet publishing or a whole range of other methods of getting their work published."

He expressed the view that he would like to see the educational system encourage the use of more poetry. He added: "It has a lot to do with the way in which our children’s lifestyles are changing and the fact that books seem to have less appeal and it is really a struggle to get them [children] to want to read."

In terms of reversing this trend, Mr. Thompson pointed out that it would be difficult, because there were other distractions, such as television channels and the internet.

??"When I was younger there was only one channel… The computer had not come into being, and I think therefore that books were one of the only avenues that could open the world to you, but I think that times have changed in that regard," he said.

"Whispering of the Trees" represents "a slice of the social history of Barbados" from the mid 1930s to the 1940s.??

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