Bocas Lit Fest

Prize-winning authors feature at Commonwealth literature conference.

Four writers from Trinidad and Tobago were the highlight of a special event at the 16th Triennial Conference of the Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies (ACLALS) in St. Lucia, August 2013.

Their special readings were given pride of place in the programme in which hundreds of literature scholars from around the Commonwealth — including from Africa, Asia, the Pacific, Canada, and Europe — participated.

ACLALS organizers invited NGC Bocas Lit Fest organizers to stage an evening reading that showcased winning Caribbean writers from recent editions of Trinidad and Tobago’s annual literary festival, and hosted by the festival’s programme director Nicholas Laughlin.


Kendel Hippolyte, Jean-Claude Cournand, Sharon Millar, Barbara Jenkins and Earl Lovelace at ACLALS, St. Lucia
Kendel Hippolyte, Jean-Claude Cournand, Sharon Millar, Barbara Jenkins and Earl Lovelace at ACLALS, St. Lucia

The event opened with fiction writer Barbara Jenkins, winner of the inaugural Hollick Arvon Caribbean Writers Prize, an award for emerging writers sponsored by the Hollick Family Charitable Trust and the literary charitable trust Arvon, in association with the Bocas Lit Fest. Jenkins read an excerpt from her debut book Sic Transit Wagon, launched at the 2013 NGC Bocas Lit Fest. She was followed by Sharon Millar, co-winner of the 2013 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, who was also shortlisted for the 2013 Hollick Arvon Prize. Millar read an excerpt from her prize-winning story “The Whale House”.

Spoken word poet Jean-Claude Cournand then changed the pace of the evening with an energetic performance of two thought-provoking pieces. Cournand is the founder of the 2 Cents Movement, a non-profit organisation that promotes youth activism and civic engagement through spoken word and performance poetry. He was also the co-ordinator of the 2013 Verses Bocas Poetry Slam Competition, sponsored by First Citizens.

St. Lucia poet Kendel Hippolyte was next in the line-up, reading from his book Fault-Lines, winner of the 2013 OCM Bocas Prize for Poetry. The evening’s finale was a spirited reading by celebrated Trinidadian author Earl Lovelace, who read from his novel Is Just a Movie, winner of the overall 2012 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature. The ACLALS conference programme also included readings highlighting St. Lucian and Jamaican poets, and an appearance by Nobel laureate Derek Walcott.

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