Bocas Lit Fest

Poets from three Caribbean countries in the running for region’s leading emerging writers’ award

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The judges for the 2015 Hollick Arvon Caribbean Writers Prize have announced a shortlist of five, chosen from among the ten previously longlisted writers. The leading Caribbean award for emerging writers will be awarded this year in the field of poetry.

The five poets who will now compete for this unique prize come from three Caribbean countries: the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, and Trinidad and Tobago. In alphabetical order, they are:

Elliot Bastien, Trinidad and Tobago

Nicolette Bethel, The Bahamas

Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné, Trinidad and Tobago

Richard Georges, British Virgin Islands

Shivanee Ramlochan, Trinidad and Tobago

Administered by The Bocas Lit Fest, the Prize will give the winning Caribbean-based writer time to advance a poetry collection. In previous years the Prize was open to writers of fiction and non-fiction. It includes a year’s mentoring by an established author and travel to the United Kingdom to attend a one-week intensive creative writing course of their choice at Arvon.

The winning writer will also receive a cash award of 3,000 GBP or US$4,500, and have three days in London to network with literary professionals, hosted by the UK’s leading creative writing organisation, Arvon, in association with Free Word Centre and agents Rogers, Coleridge & White, who have first option of agenting the winning writer.

Previous winners of the much-coveted and valuable Prize were Jamaican Diana McCaulay in 2014 (non-fiction), and the inaugural Prize in 2013 went to Trinidadian Barbara Jenkins (fiction).

At the 2015 festival media launch last month, co-founder of the Prize, Marina Salandy-Brown, lamented that the Hollick Arvon Prize may be in its final year, as the three-year sponsorship ends with this year’s winner. “We are on the look-out for a sponsor with regional reach to take over the funding of this unique Caribbean-wide prize from 2016. Few region-wide cultural initiatives exist, and this is the opportunity for a farsighted sponsor to brand something very special.”

The international judging panel of five is chaired by Funso Aiyejina, author, scholar, and former Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Education at UWI’s St. Augustine campus. On behalf of his fellow judges, Dr. Ayejina said, “Any one of the five shortlisted poets is good enough to walk away with the prize! These poets are confident explorers of the human condition. They possess the requisite individual styles for an effortless articulation of their visions, and are as much children of the great poetic tradition of the Caribbean as they are purveyors of new vistas and metaphors.”

The other judges are Jamaican poet and scholar Edward Baugh, Ruth Borthwick of Arvon, London literary agent Jennifer Hewson, and Caroline Hollick — representative of the current sponsors in the UK, the Hollick Family Charitable Trust.

The winner will be announced at the 2015 NGC Bocas Lit Fest, which runs from 29 April to 3 May in Port of Spain at the National Library.


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