On Wednesday, November 4, 2020, the NGC Bocas Lit Fest will debut a brand new online series aimed at introducing Caribbean writers to industry professionals overseas. Titled LIT’S BE REAL, the series — which takes the form of frank, solution-oriented discussions with editors, educators, agents, and more — will be hosted by Amanda Choo Quan, the 2020 winner of the Johnson and Amoy Achong Caribbean Writers Prize.
“It’s a real honour to take the global literary industry to task in a way that will be honest, real, and also entertaining,” Choo Quan enthuses. “We aim to place Caribbean writers in conversation with people they would not normally have access to — international allies already dedicated to championing marginalised voices.” This way, she hopes, Caribbean and other writers can gain advice critical to shaping their careers — and can be pivotal in discussions on reshaping an industry that includes them.
LIT’S BE REAL’s first episode will livestream on Wednesday 4 November, 2020, from 6 to 7 pm TT time, on the NGC Bocas Lit Fest Facebook page. Titled “Building a Lit Community Across Borders,” it will feature a discussion with Chiwan Choi, an editor and publisher at Writ Large Press, an independent literary press based in Los Angeles, California, and partner at the Accomplices, a collective which includes the noted press Civil Coping Mechanisms and Entropy magazine. The conversation will also feature Shivanee Ramlochan, critically acclaimed poet, arts reporter, and book blogger — no stranger to community-building in Trinidad and Tobago.
LIT’S BE REAL runs for a four-episode season every other Wednesday (4 and 18 November, 2 and 16 December, 2020), aiming to follow the arc of a writer’s career. Topics covered will include MFA and academic programmes, pitching and submitting articles to publications, and the troubling question of international audiences misunderstanding a Caribbean writer’s “voice.”
“I’ve spoken to so many Caribbean writers who believe that diluting our work is the key to success. But it is absolutely not true,” Choo Quan says. “And, in any case, ‘success’ has so many pathways. Publishing with a Big 5 press is one of them — but there is a wider world outside of that, of independent presses and magazines grounded in activism, of retreats offering funding to writers regardless of nationality.”