Five women writers to be recognised

  • Women of letters: Meredith Ebbin, left, with Maxine DeSilva, Sharon Apopa, Joan K. Aspinall and Muriel Wade-Smith (Photograph by Jonathan Bell)

    Women of letters: Meredith Ebbin, left, with Maxine DeSilva, Sharon Apopa, Joan K. Aspinall and Muriel Wade-Smith (Photograph by Jonathan Bell)

A second round of awards to honour Bermuda’s women writers are to be handed out next month.

Dale Butler, a former Progressive Labour Party MP, government minister and author, has organised the presentation of more Crystal Butterfly Literary Awards on May 5 after an awards ceremony earlier this month.

Shaunte Simons, a lawyer and author, will be guest speaker at the ceremony, which commences at 1.30pm in the CedarBridge Academy cafeteria.

Awardee Sharon Apopa’s 38-year career, from child abuse investigator to becoming the executive director of the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute, has given her a unique viewpoint on the lives of women and children.

Dr Apopa began writing after the death in 2009 of her twin sister, Caron Assan, who was the director of the National Drug Control department.

She said: “She had a passion for women’s issues, I wanted to establish a scholarship in her name, to help young women go back to college.”

Dr Apopa decided to write a book a year later and has produced a total of seven.

She said she hoped the award would help her mission to inspire and motivate young people, and young women in particular.

Dr Apopa added her next work would explore “living life intentionally”.

The awards ceremony will be opened by island artists, with author and teacher Shangri-La Durham Thompson as patron.

The event will mark the 25th anniversary of the publication of Mr Butler’s book Transitions: Voices of Bermuda Women.

Joan K. Aspinall, an author and illustrator, said she had written all her life — and that The Royal Gazette Christmas story competition had launched her career in 1975.

Ms Aspinall added: “My first books were created from art which I had on hand. The series of Tuppie the Cat used Bermuda scenes I created for the tourist print market. All I had to do was plop Tuppie in the design. His adventures came alive.”

She has written more than a dozen books, and has a volume of stories yet to be published — along with an illustrated novel.

Maxine DeSilva’s book, He Promised Me Heaven But Gave Me Hell, is an account of an abusive marriage that has sold almost 2,000 copies.

She said her inspiration came from prayer.

Ms DeSilva added: “I felt that my testimony would help many women. Many have travelled this road, but for some reason they would not write about it.”

She said the recognition was “humbling” and was considering turning the book into a play.

She added her daughter, Denise Ash, had started to turn the story into a screenplay.

Meredith Ebbin is to be honoured with the Triumph of the Spirit award as a veteran journalist and for her work to highlight the lives of key figures in Bermuda’s history.

Ms Ebbin said: “I was the editor of The Bermudian magazine and I founded the Bermuda Biographies website.

“I write profiles of people who have contributed to Bermuda and I pull out bits of history that people have forgotten about.”

Ms Ebbin’s next project for the online site is Charles Eaton Burch, a Bermudian who rose to prominence as a professor of literature at the prestigious Howard University in Washington.

She said: “So many Bermudians have attended Howard; how come more people don’t know about him?”

Ms Ebbin has also been awarded the Queen’s Certificate and Badge of Honour for services to journalism.

Muriel Wade-Smith said her literary career was inspired by Bermuda Institute teachers Merle Brock Swan Williams and Beryl Manget.

A keen letter writer and advocate for African education, Dr Wade-Smith turned to writing after her 25-year-old son, Ashanti Smith, died in 1998 in a crash.

She wrote Let Justice Flow to describe her struggles with racism and segregation.

Dr Wade-Smith said: “It is my account of the insults and indignities meted out to me as a Bermudian and as the island’s first internationally qualified curriculum co-ordinator.”

She added: “Educating Bermuda’s children is my calling, my commitment and my legacy.”

Conchita Ming and Lois Burgess will also be honoured for their contribution to Bermuda literature.

Tickets for the event are available in Hamilton at Island Kaddy and the Music Box on Reid Street and the Leopards Club on Cedar Avenue

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Published Apr 26, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Apr 26, 2019 at 7:36 am)

Five women writers to be recognised

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