A glimpse through the years in photos
Press highlights, reviews and authors' testimonials
“You have created a magnificent festival and it is a monumental achievement that has so much spirit about it. And also such a wide and embracing vision of what literature is and who can take part. When I tell people that all the events are free, they are so impressed…. For me, Bocas opens up a window on a new way of thinking about what we do and how we do it. It invigorates and nurtures my creative soul, and offers chance encounters that inspire new ideas and conversations. No other festival does this for me. Most festivals in UK are dull affairs focused only on the need to shift units. Bocas is a conversation with many strangers who have come to listen and to share, and to revel in being together.”
“What a marvelous festival Bocas is, and run by such lovely people.”
“A genuine innovation for the Caribbean was the involvement of children in literature through parallel readings and workshops for them…. In general the writers were not presented as aloof paragons handing down their tablets of wisdom. Instead there was generally a friendly and informal atmosphere that opened opportunities for dialogue.”
"I thought it was one of the best literary festivals that I've ever been to. It was just the right balance of readings and workshops. I can't think of anything I would change about it. I feel very energised for coming".
"This is not your old-fashioned concept of a literary festival where authors merely stand up and read passages from their books. The Bocas Lit Fest offers a wide array of events showcasing authors, the craft of writing and the world that Caribbean and international writers capture. This is a remarkable literature festival; a dazzling prism to the world of literature."
“Famously, Walcott the poet and Naipaul the novelist never agree on anything. But on the nourishment that Port of Spain offered them, they wholeheartedly concur. Since 2011, the city and island have hosted an annual literary week in keeping with this creative pedigree….”
“The festival brings together literary works from all over the Caribbean and the diaspora with a number of world renowned writers and poets. What struck me at this event was the honest and open stories of a few young men who were incarcerated from the age of 15 for an average of ten years at the Youth Training Centre (YTC). They along with their English teacher, a woman who volunteered to teach them English Literature whilst at the institution, decided to tell their story in this open, honest and wonderful piece of work called Wishing for Wings. I found myself literally weeping listening to their story! And there and then I vowed to do something!”
“For me, the outstanding feature of the festival, beyond the quality of the writers brought to it and the huge efficiency of the organisation, is that it is a genuinely pan-Caribbean festival with writers from all parts of the region. The enthusiastic reception of this spread of writers by a mainly Trinidadian audience is ample evidence that the ideal of Caribbean unity can exist in literature, if nowhere else.”
“… the greatest gift of the festival was opening my eyes and ears to the work of fellow writers living in and writing from the Caribbean. Before the festival, my literary worldview was overly focused on New York and the Anglophone Caribbean…. During the festival, I became aware of the robust, occasionally rancorous community of Caribbean writers based in the Caribbean and its diaspora. I made new writer friends whose lives are inflected by our shared Caribbean heritage but made different by our respective educations, geographies, genders, ages, privileges….”
“The inaugural Trinidad and Tobago literary festival, which ended in fine style last Sunday, was a grand affirmation of the power of the word in all its rich diversity…. To put on a world-class literary festival, showcasing the verbal creativity of the Caribbean and the rest of the world, you need imagination, daring and a whole heap of hard work. The very same talents it takes to be a compelling writer.”
“Bocas has brought Caribbean writing and Caribbean Diasporic writing into the global consciousness. Many of us writers here in Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean region, and in places where our people are scattered, have been empowered and recognised through Bocas…. This wonderful, magical journey was started by and was nurtured through the agency of a few brave souls who saw a need and came forward to meet it. I am immensely grateful to the Bocas team for their courage in stepping out where no one had gone before in creating an annual Literary Festival in the Caribbean whose main goal is to encourage ideas, words and expression.”
Reflections from our founders
A decade is a long time, but it’s said that time flies when you are having fun. Some of it was, indeed, great fun and a lot of it was sheer hard work. The Bocas Lit Fest is a small team of dedicated people who love what they do and together we have been on a whirlwind journey. We always knew the direction we wanted to take but various unimaginable routes opened up as we went along. I am reminded of the much loved Spanish poem by Antonio Machado: Caminante, No Hay Camino, which says, literally, that there is no path, we make a path as we walk. Only when we look back we see where we’ve been and where we will never again have to tread. The Bocas Lit Fest adventure continues, as the road is long and we can see the many opportunities for further developing our literature and our literary talent. Big thanks to all the Bocas Lit Fest team and those who accompanied us on the exciting last 10 years – readers, writers, partners, believers, sponsors, all those who gave their time freely and continue to, and those who garner corporate funds to make the work of the Bocas Lit Fest possible. I am looking forward to the next 10 years of all of us, together, making deeper inroads and building on the incredible last decade.
Reading shaped my life, so it was not uncanny to me that I would end up in some literary field. When Marina first called to encourage me to join our then "small group" I was very happy to do so. Then I discovered the scope of this venture and realised that it was, indeed, a small team that was dedicated to achieving the objectives of the Bocas Lit Fest. Needless to say, we were in well over our heads but Marina steered us through every possible angle and hurdle, encouraging us to move forward into the larger literary world. We strived to reach every part of it and continue to do so. It was not a slam dunk to get funding for THE BOCAS LIT FEST but we give thanks for some enlightened minds, such as those at NGC which continues to generously support our festival, and the eagerness of The Trinidad Express/OCM which saw a way to help us open and build a connection with the public through their media and funding for an annual prize. I am proud to have been part of this family during the past 10 years. We have grown from strength to strength, forever committed and thankful to the faithful support of our benefactors.