Dear friends and book lovers,
Three and a half months after the COVID-19 pandemic was officially declared, some of us are still under strict quarantine, others have begun to emerge cautiously. And it’s clear our world won’t ever be the same. Many of us continue to turn to poems and stories, art, music, and film, for comfort and inspiration as we imagine new ways to live.
In this third and final edition of the NGC Bocas Lit Fest’s Survival Kit, we draw on new and recently published books, online archives, and projects by past and present festival writers, performers, and artists: creative and intellectual nourishment for the present and future.
Feed your imagination!
The NGC Bocas Lit Fest team
Caul and Calling
An excerpt from the forthcoming memoir Musings, Mazes, Muses, Margins, by Gordon Rohlehr
Courtesy Peepal Tree Press
In his newest book, scheduled for publication in September 2020, the eminent Guyana-born critic and scholar ranges over a variety of forms — diary, recorded dreams, poems, flash fiction, polemics, philosophical reflections — in prose distinguished by an infectious humour and a delight in puns.
Find out more
A poem by Cindy Jiménez-Vera, from the new anthology The Sea Needs No Ornament/El Mar No Necesita Ornamento, edited and translated by Loretta Collins Klobah and Maria Grau Perejoan
Courtesy Peepal Tree Press
The Sea Needs No Ornament is the first bilingual anthology of contemporary poetry by women writers of the English- and Spanish-speaking Caribbean and its diasporas to be curated in more than two decades. Thirty-three poets are assembled here, most of whom have not previously been widely translated.
Find out more
Three poems by Martin Carter
Read by Stranger Invader, a.k.a. Vahni Capildeo
In her Midnight Robber persona, Vahni Capildeo — whose book Skin Can Hold was longlisted for the 2020 OCM Bocas Prize — reads three poems by the late Guyanese writer Martin Carter: “University of Hunger”, “This Is the Dark Time, My Love”, and “I Will Always Be Speaking with You”.
Find out more about Carter’s University of Hunger: Collected Poems and Selected Prose
EJC Jazz Cuts
Recordings of live performances from T&T’s Ethnic Jazz Club
Musician, composer, and arranger Chantal Esdelle’s Ethnic Jazz Club sessions bring together some of Trinidad and Tobago’s top musicians for intimate performances — now available for all to enjoy via the EJC Jazz Cuts podcast series.
Find out more about the Ethnic Jazz Club
Fiction by Brian Heap, Caribbean regional winner of the 2020 Commonwealth Short Story Prize
“The people at Number 24 are lovely. They’re Jamaican. Which is not unusual in itself…” This story by Brian Heap of Jamaica, about a long-married Jamaican couple in London, is a contender for the overall 2020 Commonwealth Short Story Prize.
Find out more about the Commonwealth Short Story Prize
A photography portfolio by Nadia Huggins
In her ongoing Transformations series, Vincentian artist Nadia Huggins — a participant in the 2011 Bocas Lit Fest — creates diptychs that explore the relationship between her own body and identity and the marine ecosystem. “My intention with these photographs,” she writes, “is to create a lasting breath that defies human limitation.”
For Those Who Mispronounce My Name
A film-poem by Kayo Chingonyi and Maya Cozier
Originally commissioned for the international Moving Pictures and Borders project in 2018, this poem by the Zambian-British writer Kayo Chingonyi was brought to life by Trinidadian filmmaker Maya Cozier, creating a transatlantic dialogue in words and images.
Supported by the British Council in partnership with the National Centre for Writing and the International Literature Showcase
Stand Back: Reflections on a Memoir I Wrote Too Soon
An essay by Tessa McWatt
“I wrote in my memoir that I wanted … to belong somewhere else with those who wanted to join up their hope with mine. But where is that?” In this bracing, searing essay, published in the journal Salvage, the winner of the 2020 OCM Bocas Prize for Non-Fiction reflects on how recent events have compelled her to rethink the arguments and hopes of her book Shame on Me.
Every Action Counts/Toda Acción Cuenta
An online concert for World Refugee Day 2020, hosted by the UNHCR Trinidad and Tobago office
Presented live on 20 June, and now archived online, this virtual concert presents musicians with roots in T&T, Venezuela, and Nigeria who offer a message of solidarity, openness, resilience, and joy.
Find out more about the UNHCR’s programmes and services in Trinidad and Tobago here
How we remember: reflections on the 175th anniversary of Indian Arrival Day in Trinidad and Tobago
In case you missed it: this wide-ranging conversation on how individual and collective remembering deals with ideas and realities of Indo-Caribbeanness was originally released on 6 June, 2020. Writers Andre Bagoo, Gaiutra Bahadur, and Gabrielle Hosein, along with publisher Jeremy Poynting of Peepal Tree Press, share their perspectives through readings and conversation, hosted by Shivanee Ramlochan and Nicholas Laughlin.
Caribbean writers in the Caribbean Beat archive
Looking to fill in your knowledge of some of the Caribbean’s iconic writers? A good place to start is the online archive of NGC Bocas Lit Fest media partner Caribbean Beat, which includes dozens of writers’ profiles and interviews published since 1992. Some highlights:
Jean Rhys, profiled by Jeremy Taylor, November/December 2004
Louise Bennett-Coverly, remembered by Mervyn Morris, November/December 2006
Derek Walcott, an appreciation by Brendan de Caires, January/February 2010
Earl Lovelace, profiled by Kenneth Ramchand, January/February 1999
Olive Senior, profiled by Martin Mordecai, July/August 2006
Edward Baugh, interviewed by Lisa Allen-Agostini, September/October 2006
Edwidge Danticat, profiled by Mariel Brown, November/December 2003
Nalo Hopkinson, profiled by Kellie Magnus, May/June 2005
Oonya Kempadoo, interviewed by Desiree Seebaran, May/June 2013
Andre Alexis, profiled by Donna Yawching, March/April 2018
Explore the Caribbean Beat archive here