Trinidadian Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné has been announced as the winner of the 2016 Wasafiri New Writing Prize for Poetry, the only Caribbean writer in the lineup for the coveted award.
Founded in 1984 and based in the United Kingdom, Wasafiri is a quarterly magazine of international contemporary writing, widely recognised for its role in showcasing writers from Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean. Its New Writing Prize — aimed at emerging writers, and with “no limits on age, gender, nationality or background” — has categories for poetry, fiction, and life writing. The most recent previous winner from Trinidad and Tobago was Barbara Jenkins, who won the life writing category in 2010.
Boodoo-Fortuné’s winning poem, “Portrait of My Father as a Grouper”, will be published in the Spring 2017 issue of Wasafiri. Considered a rising talent in Caribbean poetry, she previously won the 2015 Hollick Arvon Caribbean Writers Prize, an award for emerging authors administered by the Bocas Lit Fest.
Her success comes just a few weeks after fellow Trinidadian poet Vahni Capildeo won the prestigious 2016 Forward Prize for Poetry. Capildeo was the third Caribbean-born poet to win the Forward Prize in a row — after Jamaicans Kei Miller in 2014 and Claudia Rankine in 2015 — and has prompted a surge of interest in Caribbean poetry in Britain. Capildeo is also on the 2016 shortlist for the prestigious TS Eliot Prize.
Local audiences have had the chance to hear both Capildeo and Boodoo-Fortuné read from and discuss their work at the annual NGC Bocas Lit Fest, where both have appeared regularly. In 2013, Bocas organisers flagged Boodoo-Fortuné as a writer to watch, selecting her for the festival’s New Talent Showcase.