More Than A Literary Festival

2022’s been a busy year for us at the Bocas Lit Fest, full of readings and performances, prizes and workshops, thrilling new books, stimulating conversations with writers, our first-ever Bocas UK Tour, programmes for readers and writers of all ages, and so much more. As the year draws to a close, all of us on the Bocas Lit Fest team wish you a Happy Christmas and a new year full of words, stories, and ideas. Stay tuned for news about our upcoming events and projects, including the 2023 NGC Bocas Lit Fest, running from 28 to 30 April — our first in-person festival in four years!

Meanwhile, as we mark the end of one year and the start of another, the Bocas team have chosen some of our favourite events and programmes of 2022, and put together this special year-end “best of Bocas” list to share with you. Follow the links below to catch up on events you may have missed, or revisit one of your own favourites!


The Bocas Lit Fest team’s personal favourites of 2022

“Back in January, Pavement Poets ushered us into ‘A Year of Change’ with a visual tour of some of our twin islands’ most beautiful landscapes. From Port of Spain to Lowlands, Tobago, five spoken word poets shared messages of hope for themselves and our country through masterfully crafted performance pieces. With a new year fast approaching, we look forward to embracing the changes ahead as we continue to support creative work across all genres of literature.” — Marielle Forbes

“Programming eight seasons of Bios & Bookmarks, our live online interview series which began during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been an honour and a joy. This episode from Season 7: A Change is Gonna Come, featuring Puerto Rican novelist Xavier Navarro Aquino in conversation with Breanne Mc Ivor, is a reminder to me of literature’s vast capacity to help heal us, amid turbulence and chaos.” — Shivanee Ramlochan

“My favourite content of 2022 was Remembering George Lamming, the curated selection of texts and videos celebrating the work of the late Barbadian writer — especially the video on the role of art and artists in society. As someone who feels most authentic when creating in various forms, I deeply felt his points about the impact of creative work on observational skills and the forming of consciousness in all spheres of life.” — Chinyere Herbert

“The First Citizens National Poetry Slam Final was my favourite Bocas event this year. It was a joy working with the poets up to that return to the physical stage, and the final production left an indelible impact on everyone involved — the sponsors, poets, loyal and new Slam followers, hosts, and team members. It was humbling to witness the growth of the Slam on the 10th anniversary of what’s become the region’s biggest annual poetry event.” — Alette Williams

“After launching the NGC Bocas Youth Fest in a virtual format in 2021, this year we did an in-person version, with a full day of activities aimed at young adult readers and writers. For me, the highlight was the fun and very competitive ‘Big Idea’ debate, where two teams of brilliant young people faced off to debate the question ‘Is the Commonwealth still relevant?’” — Jean-Claude Cournand

“In Voices of History, one of our programmes commemorating the 60th anniversary of Trinidad and Tobago’s Independence, writer Elspeth Duncan shared a fictional account of Betty Stiven, whose real story remains a mystery, recorded on a tombstone in Tobago. It is beautifully written, paints a believable picture of what Betty’s life might have looked like, and answers the question of how she could be ‘a mother without knowing it and a wife without letting her husband know it.’” — Maria Tappin

“My favourite programme for 2022 is Bios & Bookmarks. The personalities, stories about their creative processes, and hearing about who the writers are in essence is something I am happy exists within my native space. My favourite from the series so far is the season 8 episode featuring Andre Bagoo, talking about his debut book of short fiction, hosted by Caroline Mackenzie.” — Marshelle Haseley

“One of the most crucial Caribbean books of the past few years is The Point Is to Change the World, the collected writing of the late Guyanese activist Andaiye. Her thoughts on how gender, race, and class do, can, and should intersect with political life are more relevant than ever, and the book suggested the theme of the 2023 NGC Bocas Lit Fest, Four Days to Change the World. It was a privilege to open this year’s festival with a panel discussing Andaiye’s work and ideas, featuring the book’s editor, Alissa Trotz, in conversation with three other intellectual powerhouses, Carole Boyce Davies, Honor Ford-Smith, and Sunity Maharaj — a reminder of why we do the work we do.” — Nicholas Laughlin

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