The OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature is a major award for literary books by Caribbean writers. Books may be entered in three categories: poetry, fiction, and literary non-fiction. The prize includes an award of US$10,000, sponsored by One Caribbean Media. The other category winners receive US$3,000.
The inaugural OCM Bocas Prize, presented in April 2011, was won by Derek Walcott’s collection of poems White Egrets. The 2012 Prize was won by Earl Lovelace’s novel Is Just a Movie, the 2013 Prize was won by Monique Roffey’s novel Archipelago, and the 2014 Prize was won by Robert Antoni’s novel As Flies to Whatless Boys. Vladimir Lucien’s debut collection of poems Sounding Ground was announced as the overall winner of the 2015 OCM Bocas Prize on 2 May 2015 at the fifth annual NGC Bocas Lit Fest. The winner of the 2016 OCM Bocas Prize will be announced on 30 April 2016 at the sixth annual NGC Bocas Lit Fest.
The OCM Bocas Prize has two stages. First, panels of distinguished judges select the best book in each of the three genre categories. Next, the chairs of the poetry, fiction, and non-fiction panels, joined by the overall chair and vice-chair of the prize, form a final prize jury to select the overall winner from the three genre winners.
To be eligible for the prize, a book must have been published in the past calendar year, and written by an author born in the Caribbean or holding Caribbean citizenship. Books must also have been originally written in English.
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The Hollick Arvon Caribbean Writers Prize is an annual award which allows an emerging Caribbean writer living and working in the Caribbean to devote time to advancing or finishing a literary work, with support from an established writer as mentor. It was sponsored by the Hollick Family Charitable Trust for a three year period (2013 – 2015) and jointly administered by the non-profit organisation the Bocas Lit Fest and the creative writing charity Arvon.
The Bocas Lit Fest is now seeking a new sponsor with regional reach to take over the funding of this unique Caribbean-wide prize from 2016.
Launched in 2013, CODE’s Burt Award for Caribbean Literature is an annual Award that will be given to three English-language literary works for young adults (aged 12 through 18) written by Caribbean authors. Established by CODE – a Canadian charitable organization that has been supporting literacy and learning for over 50 years – in collaboration with the Literary Prizes Foundation and the Bocas Lit Fest, the Award aims to provide engaging and culturally-relevant books for young people across the Caribbean.
Up to three prizes will be awarded each year to the authors of the winning titles: a First Prize of $10,000 CAD, a Second Prize of $7,000 CAD and a Third Prize of $5,000 CAD. Publishers of winning titles will be awarded a guaranteed purchase of up to 2,000 copies. Copies purchased by the program are donated to select libraries, schools and literacy organizations for distribution throughout the region.
So far, over 15,000 copies of winning titles have been donated to hundreds of locations across 11 Caribbean countries − and thousands more copies of the recently-announced 2015 winners will be distributed later this year.
The intent of the prize is to champion literacy, build language skills and foster the love and habit of reading amongst youth and young adults.
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In 2013, the NGC Bocas Lit Fest inaugurated a new annual lifetime achievement award to recognise service to Caribbean literature by editors, publishers, critics, broadcasters, and others. The Bocas Henry Swanzy Award for Distinguished Service to Caribbean Letters is named for the late BBC radio producer (1915–2004) who created a landmark platform for Caribbean writing in the 1940s and 50s through the Caribbean Voices programme, which broadcast fiction and poems by West Indian writers across the region.
Each year the NGC Bocas Lit Fest will honour Swanzy’s memory and recognise the achievements of other editors, broadcasters, and critics via the Bocas Henry Swanzy Award. Recipients will be chosen by the NGC Bocas Lit Fest organising committee, and awardees will be invited to attend the festival, speak about their work, and receive the award at a special event.