The judges for the 2021 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature have announced the winners in the three genre categories: poetry, fiction, and non-fiction.
The genre category winners, by authors from three different Caribbean territories, will now enter the final round of judging, vying for the overall award of US$10,000.
Internationally recognised as the leading literary award for Caribbean writers, the OCM Bocas Prize is sponsored by One Caribbean Media, the largest media house in the Caribbean.
The Dyzgraphxst, the sophomore collection from Canisia Lubrin, a St Lucia native based in Canada, is the winner of the poetry category. “Reading this collection makes you hold your breath and dive to the ocean-floor and emerge riding the waves,” write the judges. “A concern for our world, and a speaking out against exploitation and climate disaster, remain central, intact, and allow necessity to direct the experimentation. These are not easy poems, but there is undeniable music to them, a tidal ebb and flow beneath the complexities of language and questions of identity, place and environmental concerns.”
The winner of the fiction category is These Ghosts Are Family by Jamaica-born, US-based Maisy Card. “At its heart is the story of Caribbean enslavement and the legacy of trauma it has passed down from generation to generation, but the way it tackles this live and current theme is always fresh and innovative,” say the judges. “The novel, across chapters, consistently surprises with the courses it takes and the outcomes of its scenes — the control over the material evident from the earliest chapters.”
And in the non-fiction category, the winner is The Undiscovered Country, by T&T journalist, poet, and essayist Andre Bagoo. The judges praise it as “a wonderfully intelligent and wide-ranging book. There’s a touch of humour in much of this book, with some essays focused on particular works of art, and others telescoping out to analyse pressing political questions. Innovative and insightful, knowledgeable about both film and fiction, written by an author who is up front about surveying literature and politics as a gay man, it’s much more than a collection of essays.”
The overall winner of the 2021 OCM Bocas Prize will be announced on Saturday 24 April, during the Winners’ Row celebratory event at the virtual 2021 NGC Bocas Lit Fest, available for viewing at www.bocaslitfest.com.
The 2021 chief judge is Vahni Capildeo, renowned Trinidad-born UK-based writer and 2016 Forward Poetry Prize winner. Joining the final judging panel are the respective chairs of the poetry, fiction, and non-fiction panels: Opal Palmer Adisa, Jamaican poet; Malachi McIntosh, editor of the UK-based journal Wasafiri; and Rosamond S. King, Trinidadian-American writer and scholar .
The 2021 NGC Bocas Lit Fest, which runs from Friday 23 to Sunday 25 April, will take place online and is FREE to attend. NGC is the title sponsor of the festival, First Citizens is lead sponsor, OCM is a prize sponsor, the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts, NLCB, Massy Foundation, and UWI are sponsors.