The 2012 NGC Bocas Lit Fest line-up includes readings and talks by a slate of remarkable writers at all stages of their careers — from eminent prize-winners whose works are already considered classics, to debut authors at the start of promising careers.

But the festival also includes many events focused on budding and newly emerging writers, and opportunities for them to share and get feedback on their work. Our workshop series includes sessions on “Getting started” and “Getting to the end”, on “Form and freedom” in poetry, on writing song lyrics and for the stage, and a high-powered seminar on “How to get published”, in which three international publishing professionals — a magazine editor, a literary agent, and a book publisher — will talk about how contemporary publishing really works, and give advice on preparing and selling a manuscript. We’re also hosting a series ofone-on-one feedback sessions for writers of fiction and poetry.

Then there’s our New Talent Showcase. Every year, the NGC Bocas Lit Fest selects exceptionally talented writers who are yet to publish their first book, and gives them a special platform to share their writing. Four writers have been selected for 2012. They’ll each read from their work and answer questions from the audience. The readings take place daily at 12.30 pm, in the Old Fire Station:

Stephen Narain (Bahamas/fiction) • Thursday 26 April
Sharon Millar (Trinidad/fiction) • Friday 27 April
Sonia Farmer (Bahamas/poetry) • Saturday 28 April
Rhoda Bharath (Trinidad/fiction) • Sunday 29 April

And one of the most popular parts of the festival programme is the open mic series — seven sessions spread across the four festival days, where budding writers can read their work under the expert guidance of MC Gillian Moor. The open mic readings are in the National Library’s Abercromby Street arcade, a lively space open to the street, enticing passersby to come and listen to the diverse talents of writers of all ages.

There’s even more! This year, the NGC Bocas Lit Fest is partnering with two literary organisations to host events that shine a spotlight on new talent. On the afternoon of Saturday 28 April, the Writers Union of Trinidad and Tobago will present a special “Homegrown talent” programme, featuring readings by a dozen WUTT members. And on Sunday 29 April, the festival will host the 2012 award ceremony for the Allen Prize for Young Writers, which recognises and supports writers aged 12 to 19. The winners of the 2012 awards will be announced, and last year’s winners — a very talented bunch of young authors — will read from their fiction and poems.

Finally, something we’ve been working on quietly behind the scenes. At this year’s festival, the NGC Bocas Lit Fest will announce a new annual award to support an emerging Caribbean writer in completing a manuscript and making connections in the international publishing world. We’re very excited about this award, which will complement our annual OCM Bocas Prize, and looking forward to sharing the details at the Prize ceremony on the evening of Saturday 28 April.

So, new writers: clear your calendars, come down to the NGC Bocas Lit Fest headquarters at the National Library from 26 to 29 April, and show us what you’ve got!

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