Bocas News

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Challenging the world to take stock of the new era of Caribbean writing

The NGC Bocas Lit Fest challenges the world, including the Caribbean, to take stock of the new era of Caribbean writing.

For many North Americans, Cuba and Haiti grab the headlines, sometimes the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, while the rest of the Caribbean is just a tropical dream come true – sun, sea, sand and happy natives. The NGC Bocas Lit Fest is setting out to show that there is a lot more to the Caribbean than the images in the glossy tourist brochure.

At the Miami Book Fair (15-22 November) a clutch of new Caribbean writers will be presenting their work in an event called Not That Caribbean: New Writing from the Antilles. In it, fiction writer Elizabeth Walcott-Hackshaw of Trinidad and Tobago and Sharon Leach of Jamaica will explore the wry, self-conscious sides of the urban Caribbean, while debut poet Vladimir Lucien of St. Lucia, winner of the coveted 2015 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, turns the eye of his 21st-century generation to the island celebrated by Nobel laureate Derek Walcott.

NGC Bocas Lit Fest programme director and debut poet Nicholas Laughlin will engage these three fellow writers, all of whom have been shortlisted for the Guyana Prize, in a conversation about the ways contemporary Caribbean writers are changing the way the world thinks about “the islands.” That is on Sunday 22 November at 1:30pm.

And in another Miami Book Fair event, Voices of the Caribbean: New Poetry, will feature poets Vladimir Lucien and Nicholas Laughlin together with other debut poet, Colin Channer of Jamaica and prize winning Cuban-American poet Carlos Pintado whose new collection Nine Coins/Nueve monedas is published for the first time in English and Spanish and won the Paz award, named after the great Nobel Prize-winning poet Octavio Paz.

Channer’s Providential draws on his knowledge of Jamaican culture and on his complex relationship with his father, while Vladimir Lucien’s Sounding Ground contains stories of ancestors, immediate family, and history embedded in his native St. Lucia. The poems in Nicholas Laughlin’s The Strange Years of My Life include the narratives of 19th-century travelers and 20th-century anthropologists, spy movies, and astronomical lore.  Saturday 21 November at 10:30am.

“In September the NGC Bocas Lit Fest showcased new Caribbean poets at New York’s biggest literary festival, the Brooklyn Book Fest, and now we are taking the opportunity at the USA’s biggest book fair to send the same message that new and wonderful work is coming out of our region”, says Marina Salandy-Brown, director of the Bocas Lit Fest who adds, “it is important that we fly our flag high and promote Caribbean writing since our writers are currently making waves on the international scene.”