Amongst the various art forms taking centre stage at CARIFESTA XIV, the biggest celebration of Caribbean arts and culture, 16-24 August, will be a free, diverse literary programme curated and executed by the NGC Bocas Lit Fest, Trinidad and Tobago’s annual literary festival.
At the heart of the literary programme are daily open mic sessions that writers have been invited to sign up for via the Bocas Lit Fest website at www.bocaslitfest.com/carifesta/opencall before 5 August (registration is now closed). The response to this call has been tremendous so writers are scheduled to read on a first come, first serve basis.
CARIFESTA’s literary component will be anchored by the CARIFESTA XIV Book Fair in the Grand Market at the Queen’s Park Savannah. There, booksellers will offer a wide range of Caribbean titles every day, alongside readings by star writers and the Open Mic sessions that will include established and emerging writers and spoken word performers.
For the second time this year in T&T, word lovers will have the chance to be regaled by some of the region’s literary luminaries, set to converge in Port of Spain for CARIFESTA XIV. Patrons can catch them in back-to-back events, starting at noon daily and continuing into evening sessions and featuring a number of class acts such as TT’s foremost literary star Earl Lovelace; St Lucian poet and 2015 OCM Bocas Prizewinner Vladimir Lucien with fellow prize-winning St-Lucian writers; consummate Caribbean storyteller Paul Keens-Douglas and novelist Michael Anthony. The lineup comprises other acclaimed local writers, including Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné, Kevin Jared Hosein, Lisa Allen-Agostini, Shivanee Ramlochan, Debbie Jacob, Andre Bagoo and many more from across the Caribbean.
Oral tradition adherents will get their fix with Midnight Robber renditions, pieces inspired by the classic Bookman folk character, an Extempo Debate between Black Sage and current Extempo Monarch Brian London, and sizzling performances by several winners of the annual First Citizens National Poetry Slam.
Thematic readings by writers integrated into cross-cultural events will also take place around Port of Spain. One stand-alone, headline literary event will be the musical presentation They Called Him Kitch, by UK-based TT poet Anthony Joseph, author of “Kitch: A Fictional Biography of a Calypso Icon”, at the Big Black Box in Woodbrook on Sunday 18th August. Musicians Douglas Redon, Krisson Joseph and Modupe Folasade Onilu help set Lord Kitchener’s biography in a musical context.
Writing workshops are a mainstay of the NGC Bocas Lit Fest and ten interactive workshops are on offer in collaboration with NALIS and the Southern Academy for the Performing Arts (SAPA). These include masterclasses with OCM Bocas Prizewinners Kevin Adonis Browne and Vladimir Lucien and 2018 Slam champion Deneka Thomas, as well as a workshop for absolute beginners with UWI lecturer Muli Amaye and Identifying (with) the Erotic, with Barbados’ Robert Edison Sandiford. Register now at www.bocaslitfest.com/carifesta. NALIS will also host an exhibition of classic regional literature at the National Library where the Port of Spain workshops will take place, 10am-1pm daily.