The OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature is now open for entries. It is the only prize in the region that is open to Caribbean writers of different literary genres.
Now in its sixth year, the Prize has become the benchmark of literary excellence and is much sought after by Caribbean writers all over the world who qualify by being of Caribbean birth or citizenship. The OCM Bocas Prize is judged in three categories — fiction, literary non-fiction and poetry — by distinguished, internationally based judges, and is open to books published in the calendar year 2015.
The overall winner, selected from the three category winners, will receive an award of US$10,000 and the two other category winners will receive prizes of US$3,000, courtesy the Caribbean’s largest media company, Trinidad and Tobago–based One Caribbean Media.
The OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature is unique. It includes debut and self-published books in the overall judging, giving a huge boost to those newcomers recognised by the judges for outstanding literary achievement. Vladimir Lucien from St Lucia took home the overall prize in 2015 for his debut poetry collection Sounding Ground, the Prize’s first overall poetry winner since Derek Walcott’s White Egrets collection in 2011. Following this success, Lucien has been featured at major international book festivals, including the upcoming Brooklyn Book Festival and Miami International Book Fair. He also featured at the NGC Bocas Lit Fest in Tobago in July.
The OCM Bocas Prize has contributed much to raising the profile of Caribbean writers, and its past winners have been making waves on the international literature scene. Multi-talented Jamaican writer Kei Miller won the UK’s Forward Prize for the best poetry collection of 2014, the same year that his collection of essays was named winner of the non-fiction category of the OCM Bocas Prize. Marlon James, another Jamaican and 2015 winner of the fiction category of the OCM Bocas Prize, made history this year as the first Jamaican to appear on the long list of the prestigious Man Booker International Prize.
“Prizes help to point the public to the best on offer, and they bring professional attention to writers, broadening their prospects, encouraging publishing, and enhancing sales. Prizes are an essential element in the literary eco-system and we are extremely fortunate that in the Caribbean we have the OCM Bocas Prize that is allowing us to build on and resuscitate the great tradition of Caribbean letters,” says Marina Salandy-Brown, director and founder of the Bocas Lit Fest, which administers the Prize and, funded principally by its title sponsor the National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago, hosts three annual literary festivals and a children’s festival in Trinidad and Tobago.
Past overall winners of the OCM Bocas Prize are As Flies to Whatless Boys by Robert Antoni (2014), Archipelago by Monique Roffey (2013), and Is Just a Movie by Earl Lovelace (2012). White Egrets, the poetry collection by Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott, won in the inaugural year of the Prize in 2011.
For further information about the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature and to download the 2016 Prize submission guidelines and entry form, click here.
The Bocas Lit Fest is also supported by lead sponsor First Citizens, and by main sponsors the Ministry of Planning and Sustainable Development, and the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism in Trinidad and Tobago.