Bocas Lit Fest

As Trinidad and Tobago marks its 60th anniversary of Independence, the NGC Bocas Lit Fest joins in commemorating the historic milestone with a special online programme of literary and performance events.

This month-long programme will run from Independence Day on 31 August to Republic Day on 24 September — a “Season of Independence” that brings together newly commissioned writing by T&T authors reflecting on our past and future, and discussions and readings centred on recent books about the meaning of belonging and citizenship. A musical performance and a curated playlist of video content from the NGC Bocas Lit Fest archives complete the programme. The full schedule is online here, and all events can be viewed on demand at the NGC Bocas Lit Fest YouTube and Facebook pages.

From 31 August — Independence Day — viewers can explore and enjoy curated videos covering T&T’s heritage and history via National Interests, a YouTube playlist available for the duration of the “Season of Independence.” Drawing on the festival’s rich archives, the offerings include discussions with contemporary authors, celebrations of classic books, and vibrant panel discussions on historical topics — a chance to revisit highlights of the NGC Bocas Lit Fest over the past five years.

New on-demand online programming will premiere on four consecutive Thursdays through September, premiering on the NGC Bocas Lit Fest YouTube and Facebook pages. Events include a 1 September discussion of how our national story gets written, and by whom, featuring eminent historians Bridget Brereton and Brinsley Samaroo; and a 22 September conversation with Barbara Jenkins and Ira Mathur, authors of new memoirs which tackle thorny issues of belonging and “home.”

The “Season of Independence” also focuses on “lost voices” from T&T’s past, with newly commissioned prose and poetry by six contemporary T&T authors focusing on historical characters whose personal perspectives were unrecorded in their times. Figures such as Banwari Man/Woman — the first known inhabitant of Trinidad, whose remains are dated to BCE 3400 — the elusive Betty Stiven, buried under Tobago’s Mystery Tombstone, and Bhuruth Suroop, the first indentured immigrant to disembark from the Fatel Razack in 1845, will be brought back to life, through a combination of historical research and literary imagination. The segments will air on 8 and 15 September.

T&T’s upcoming generation will add their perspectives as well, through a series of “Letters to the Future” by young writers in their 20s, addressed to T&T in the year 2062 — a kind of virtual time capsule recording the concerns and hopes of today’s youth, available from 15 September.

And a popular NGC Bocas Lit Fest fixture will also return: the Extempo Debate, bringing together two expert calypsonians for a witty, incisive discussion of topical issues through song. Black Sage and Lady Syntax will tackle “The Price of Progress”, using King Austin’s 1979 kaiso classic “Progress” as a prompt. The Extempo Debate will be available on-demand from 8 September.

The title sponsor of the NGC Bocas Lit Fest is the National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited. The “Season of Independence” is also sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts.

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