It may be the eeriest reign of the Merry Monarch in recent memory as Carnival 2021 in Trinidad and Tobago winds down, but certainly not the most transient. In the land where ‘the road made to walk on Carnival day’, the question of “to be or not to be” has simply been unfathomable – Carnival cannot be cancelled, merely transmuted. However, in the absence of a physical festival, we’ve been given pause to document the stories of Carnival, reflecting on its rebellious roots and accepted norms. In this Carnival selection from the Bocas Lit Fest, find our 2021 offerings packaged along with archival features that provide insight into, question and give literary context to the aspects of the festival that have come to define us.
Carnival Bodies: An exploration of performing gender and sexuality in Carnival
Carnival has notoriously been an expression of “playing yuhself”, but is this freedom equally available to all of us? Hosted by Ardene Sirjoo, our panel of Robert Young, elisha efua bartels, and Amir Hall, took a look at the hidden truths behind this narrative, exploring the space that may or may not exist for queerness and (un)masking in our Carnival. Also find their subsequent Q&A segment with our audience, and personal Carnival statements from some of our panellists.
Lost in Jouvert: An Animated Children’s Story
Written by the children of Port of Spain as part of the NGC Children’s Bocas Lit Fest Storytelling Caravan, this story follows along as Anya discovers blue devils, a bookman, fancy sailors and more, but gets lost among the crowd of revellers during her first visit to the Jouvert festivities in T&T.
Carnival Essentials: A Recommended Reading List
We’ve compiled a list of recommended and available reads for Trinidad Tourism Limited (www.visittrinidad.com), that spans non-fiction, fiction, photography and children’s lit. The stories, histories and compelling images in these titles will remain with you long after Ash Wednesday. https://visittrinidad.tt/blog/literature-lavway-a-reading-list-on-trinidad-and-tobago-carnival-for-all-ages-and-tastes/
From the Archives: Robber Talk
In this celebration of the Midnight Robber, one of T&T’s indigenous performance traditions at the 2018 NGC Bocas Lit Fest, writers Vahni Capildeo, Rhoda Bharath and Colin Robinson read new pieces inspired by the art of robber talk, and master Midnight Robber Damian Whiskey delivered sinister news and topical commentary.
From the Archives: Tribute to Gordon Rohlehr
Introduced by Nicholas Laughlin, Festival Programme Director, as the person who “made us most take calypso seriously as a form of literature and social commentary”, Gordon Rohlehr, the beloved literary scholar and calypso expert launched his book, Perfected Fables, Now: A Bookman Signs Off on Seven Decades at #bocas2019, as writers and calypsonians paid tribute through their words and music.
From the Archives: They Called Him Kitch
Anthony Joseph read from his critically acclaimed fictionalised biography They Called Him Kitch at the Big Black Box for Carifesta 2019, interpreting Kitchener’s songs and specially composed music.