Bocas Lit Fest

Considered one of the leading Caribbean writers of his generation, Anthony Joseph — born in Trinidad and based in Britain — is equally celebrated for his poetry and his fiction. Now a new online project produced by the UK literary organisation Speaking Volumes and hosted by the NGC Bocas Lit Fest brings his novel The Frequency of Magic to life online through musical performance, with a series of 100 daily podcast episodes premiering on Tuesday 25 October.

Innovative and ambitious, The Frequency of Magic is simultaneously a portrait of Trinidad and a portrait of creative obsession, shot through with musical rhythms and cadences. The author has recorded the entire novel in one hundred audio chapters, accompanied by his band, bringing this inventive text alive for the ear. The production is funded by Arts Council England.

The Frequency of Magic features vocals by the author — whose latest book of poems, Sonnets for Albert, has been shortlisted for both the Forward Prize and the T.S. Eliot Prize, the two most prestigious British awards for poetry. Joseph’s dramatised readings are accompanied by musicians Denys Baptiste, Andrew John, Thibaut Remy, Colin Webster, Jason Yarde, and Rod Youngs.

“In the summer of 2021,” Joseph says, “I went into Love Electric Studios in London with my regular band; musicians I’ve worked with for over a decade. For five days, we improvised and spontaneously created soundscapes and grooves which I read over. At the beginning of the week, the task of recording 100 chapters of 1,000 words each seemed daunting, especially when each chapter lasted around 10 minutes! But we found our flow and made it to the end around 5 pm on Friday evening.”

The author adds: “The improvisational but naturally accurate elements of the music — which moves from ambient textures to free jazz — echo both the free-spirited, surrealist mode in which I wrote and edited the text, and the novel’s narrative form, in which everything occurs simultaneously. The spaces where these two elements align is truly the frequency of magic.”

The series will release one episode each day, starting on 25 October and continuing for 100 days, at www.bocaslitfest.com/the-frequency-of-magic. Listeners can check in daily for the latest episode, or weekly to catch up in batches.

The audio series is the latest collaboration between Speaking Volumes — a London-based live literature organisation specialising in getting underrepresented voices heard, reaching diverse audiences, and finding exciting ways to present the work of writers — and the NGC Bocas Lit Fest.

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