By Shivanee Ramlochan, 2015 NGC Bocas Lit Fest Blogger
“When I started writing in the 80s and publishing in the 90s, there was nothing like Marina’s festival,” Trinidadian writer Lawrence Scott glowingly reflected, as he praised the work of the Bocas team in putting out a literary celebration that’s now confidently entering its lustrum. Speaking on March 25th at Nalis, Port of Spain, at the official launch of his new collection of short stories, Leaving by Plane Swimming back Underwater, Scott’s remarks set an encouraging tone for what was also the first formal #bocas2015 pre-festival event. In her introductory salutations, festival foundress and director Marina Salandy-Brown enthused over the diversity of pre-festival palate-stimulating soirees, which include the riveting semifinals of the Verses Bocas Poetry Slam, a Friends of Mr. Biswas journalism lecture on Jerome Rampersad, and an evening of poetry and jazz, part of the invigorating New Fire Concert Series. (A full listing of pre-festival #bocas2015 events is accessible here!)
Published by independent Dominican press, Papillote, Leaving by Plane Swimming back Underwater offers a saga of odysseys, some minor, some groundbreaking, as the launch’s discussion moderator, Barbara Jenkins, noted. In her conversation with Scott, Jenkins raised concerns of religious ardour; personal life as narrative; the conflict between sexual and spiritual desires, all of which are sensitively and deftly wrought in Scott’s prose. Scott peppered his candid responses to Jenkins with frequent readings from the new collection, prompting gales of laughter and thoughtful nods from the audience, several of whom snatched up copies from Paper Based Bookshop‘s Joan Dayal, after the gathering.
Perhaps one of the most gratifying highlights of Scott’s launch was the convocation of literary talent such events stimulate. It was a treat to witness Jenkins, herself no stranger to the Bocas stage (as inaugural Hollick Arvon Caribbean Writers prizewinner, who launched her massively popular 2013 Peepal Tree Press collection, Sic Transit Wagon, to a packed Bocas crowd) in animated discourse with Scott, himself the holder of a generous cache of book-based awards and titles.
If you missed the official launch, hosted by the NGC Bocas Lit Fest, Lexicon Trinidad Ltd and Papillote Press, never fear – Scott will be reading from his new book during #bocas2015 itself — keep your bookdial tuned to our official programme, which is being regularly updated as the full festival days draw closer. In the meantime, you can pick up a copy of Leaving by Plane Swimming back Underwater from Paper Based Bookshop, along with a plethora of other festival titles.