10 Years of Highlights

Press highlights, reviews and authors' testimonials

Ruth Borthwick
Ruth BorthwickChief executive, Arvon, and Hollick Arvon Prize judge
“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.”
Irvine Welsh
Irvine WelshAuthor of Trainspotting
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“What a marvelous festival Bocas is, and run by such lovely people.”
Philip Nanton
Philip NantonAuthor of Island Voices; finalist for the Hollick Arvon Prize
“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.”
Lorna Goodison
Lorna GoodisonAuthor of Oracabessa, 2014 winner of the OCM Bocas Prize for Poetry
"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".
Debbie Jacob
Debbie JacobWriter, journalist, educator
"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."
Boyd Tonkin
Boyd Tonkinwriter, journalist and critic
“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….”
Akosua Edwards
Akosua Edwards Writer & Blogger
“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!”
Jeremy Poynting
Jeremy PoyntingPeepal Tree Press
“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.”
Naomi Jackson
Naomi JacksonAuthor of The Star Side of Bird Hill
“… 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….”
Carolyn Cooper
Carolyn CooperProfessor Emerita, UWI, Mona, Jamaica
“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.”
Barbara Jenkins
Barbara JenkinsAuthor of Sic Transit Wagon; winner of the 2012 Hollick Arvon Prize
“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