More Than A Literary Festival

Youth essay competition celebrates Selvon centenary

A new essay-writing competition for young authors aged 12 to 18, opening for submissions this week, aims to celebrate the centenary of iconic T&T writer Sam Selvon and simultaneously raise awareness of the Global Climate Change Alliance+ goals, while giving budding authors the chance to share their work.

The GCCA+ Bocas Ways of Sunlight Youth Writing Competition, administered by the Bocas Lit Fest in partnership with the EU-funded Global Climate Change Alliance+, takes its name from one of Selvon’s best-loved books. Young writers can vie for a first prize of TT$6,000, a second prize of $3,000, and a third prize of $1,000, by submitting an original non-fiction essay.

The competition is looking for essays that explore contemporary life in Trinidad and Tobago through themes similar to the ones Selvon wrote about in Ways of Sunlight, including family and community, education and personal development, social and cultural change, migration, relations across boundaries of ethnicity and class, and personal and collective identity.

The deadline is 31 August, 2023, and submissions must be made online at There is no submission fee.

Born in San Fernando on 20 May 1923, Selvon was a pioneering figure among the generation of Caribbean writers who made their names in the 1950s. His fiction — in particular his debut novel A Brighter Sun (1952) and his short stories — has been a major influence on subsequent generations of T&T writers, and his novel The Lonely Londoners (1956) is considered a classic fictional account of the lives of post-Windrush West Indians in Britain. The GCCA+ Bocas Ways of Sunlight Youth Writing Competition follows a series of events celebrating Selvon’s legacy at the 2023 NGC Bocas Lit Fest in April. Full details of the competition and submissions guidelines are available at the Bocas Lit Fest website.

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