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New Talent Showcase – Shivanee Ramlochan

by Shivanee Ramlochan, 2013 NGC Bocas Lit Fest Blogger.

Well. This is weird, right? When I asked Nicholas Laughlin, the Festival Programme director, how blogging about my own New Talent Showcase reading, held on April 27th, would work, he seemed blissfully unbothered. “Just write about what the experience was like for you,” he said – and so, this is what I’ll do.

I’m immensely lucky to have grown up in a household where reading was more than a frivolous “other”, or worse, perceived as some counter-productive act of treason against a serious, well-considered life. For this, I credit both my parents, and my mother in particular. I’m lucky, too, in that, though I write in isolation, locked up in my room (as do most writers I know), my writing community is generous, intuitive, and far-reaching. My fellow 2010 Cropper Residential Writers’ Workshop alumna, Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné, and now, my fellow 2012 New Talent Showcasee, is in herself an immediate reminder that it’s more useful to think of one’s creative peers as company and not competition.

Reading my work, and staving off a million kinds of nerves.

I read from my poetry, as well as from my fiction, and Nicholas, who moderated the session, asked me about my difference of process between the two. He also wondered how my critical writing fit in, or didn’t. I said that writing poetry is often the most visceral of the three, and more likely than not, the most painful, whereas I approach fiction with an almost obsessive eye for detail and for cutting out the extraneous. My desire for economy in fiction stems, I think, from the influence of my “Everything” writer, Jean Rhys.

I can only say what others have said about my work. It’s been called unsettling, a weird mixture of the domestic and the feral. I’ve been told that it cuts and stings and is often too much to sit down with for any extended period of time. I think I’m still (and probably always will be) in the process of learning to write as authentically as I can, and the simple, incredible act of being at the Bocas Lit Fest is as powerful a reminder as any, of the reasons why I try.

Photograph by Maria Nunes, Official Festival Photographer.