Please click on each of the award titles below to find out more

The OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature

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 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 2016 prize, a book must have been published in the calendar year 2015, and written by an author born in the Caribbean or holding Caribbean citizenship. Books must also have been originally written in English. The submission deadline for books published between 1 January and 31 October, 2015 is 9 November, 2015. The deadline for books published between 1 November and 31 December, 2015 is 8 January, 2016.

Download the full submission guidelines here.

The winner of the 2016 OCM Bocas Prize will be announced on 30 April 2016 at the sixth annual NGC Bocas Lit Fest.


Burt Award for Caribbean Literature

The 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 William (Bill) Burt and 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 2,500 copies. Copies purchased by the program will be donated to select libraries, schools and literacy organizations for distribution throughout the region.

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. The specific objectives are:

  1. to recognize excellence in literature for Caribbean youth
  2. to support and motivate the development of and access to high quality, culturally relevant reading materials at a critical stage of learning
  3. to support the development and acquisition of language skills  and to help foster  enthusiasm for and a love of reading
  4. to stimulate and support the publishing industry in the Caribbean and celebrate the rich literary heritage of the Caribbean
  5. to increase the stock of locally produced, English-language literature in libraries, schools, and community centres throughout the Caribbean.

The call for submissions for the third edition of the Burt Award for Caribbean Literature closed on 31 October 2015. The winners will be announced on 29 April 2016 at the sixth annual NGC Bocas Lit Fest. For more details, see the Burt Award For Caribbean Literature Guidelines and Entry Form 2016.


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.


Bocas Henry Swanzy Award

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.