More Than A Literary Festival

New Talent Showcase – Sonia Farmer

by Shivanee Ramlochan, 2013 NGC Bocas Lit Fest Blogger.

Bahamian poet Sonia Farmer, the second of this year’s New Talent Showcase writers, shared readings from her work on April 26th at the Old Fire Station. Farmer is the winner of the 2011 Small Axe Literary Competition for her poetry, and has been published in tongues of the ocean (where she’s also the Prose Fiction editor); Poui; WomanSpeak Journal and Ubiquitous. Her two chapbooks of poems are titled What Becomes Us (2007) and Grow (2008), both of which were limited-edition, handbound releases, published by her small press, Poinciana Paper Press. Farmer brought along a selection of Poinciana titles, which she proudly displayed following her reading. The Poinciana ethic, she elaborated to panel moderator and festival Programme Director Nicholas Laughlin, is that literature can to be beautiful to behold, in printed form. Her well-honed techniques revolving around letterpress; book-binding; paper-making and print-making bear this out: each Poinciana product is a treasure of image and text, an intimate sort of reader-publisher correspondence in times where the art of the small or boutique press often becomes swallowed up in mass market paperback syndrome.

New Talent Showcase writer Sonia Farmer, with The Twelve Foot Neon Woman by Loretta Collins Klobah.

Many of Farmer’s poems are written as a kind of authentic interrogation of the history/histories surrounding the infamous pirates Anne Bonny and Mary Read, both of whom were convicted for piracy in the 18th century. Farmer’s work delves deep, beneath the maritime considerations of what’s lazily conjectured about this duo, as both buccaneers and women. Writing about their lives sees the poet addressing the significance of these figures to Bahamian history, and in so doing, revisiting the Bahamian cultural landscape with a fresh, unstinting pair of eyes.

Photograph by Maria Nunes, Official Festival Photographer.

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