Bocas Lit Fest

Poetry from inside the Port of Spain prison will travel far and wide on Wednesday 26 April when local celebrities join inmates for a live Facebook-streamed event, Voices from Inside, T&T.

Machel Montano, Kees Dieffenthaler, Muhammad Muwakil and Anya Ayoung Chee will be led by US writer and academic Dr. Baz Dreisinger in a series of readings from Incarceration Nations: A Journey to Justice in Prisons Around the World, her incisive and hope-giving comparative study of international penal correction systems.

Three winners of the My Life NGC Bocas Prison Poetry competition will join the cast of this lively and novel event to read their star poems, alongside other inmates who have found voice in writing poetry while on remand or serving long sentences, two of them already with collections to their names.

Also included in the programme are poems published in Wishing for Wings, the hugely successful account of the YTC inmates studying English for CXC under Debbie Jacob. And the much lauded prison band Outfit International will provide the music.

Viewers can follow the event as it happens by going to on Wednesday 26 April at 4pm. 

The special event, aimed at giving voice to the faceless, silent people who live in prisons, also highlights the redemptive power of the arts and the benefits of a humane approach to punishment.

Dr. Dreisinger pointed out that, ”The issues of mass incarceration and prisons as a response to crime are at the forefront of discourse right now.” She added, “The understanding exists that justice systems, and prisons in particular, are at the core of a society and you really don’t know a country until you have been inside its prisons, which is Mandela’s famous statement.”

Crime and punishment is the subject of one of the four hard-hitting Human Rights panel discussions in the 2017 NGC Bocas Lit Fest at the National Library. On Sunday 30th April at 11am, authors Baz Dreisinger and Debbie Jacob will join Justice Gillian Lucky and Prof Ramesh Deosaran to explore the thorny issue of T&T’s criminal justice system, chaired by Francesca Hawkins.

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