More Than A Literary Festival

Bocas marks anniversary milestones

Milestone anniversaries of two groundbreaking Caribbean novels are among the highlights of the upcoming 2024 NGC Bocas Lit Fest, with special events on the first two nights of the annual festival.

Spirits in the Dark, the debut novel by Vincentian-Canadian writer H. Nigel Thomas, will be in the spotlight on Thursday 25 April, as the festival celebrates the book’s 30th anniversary. The session, which is free and open to the public, will feature the author in conversation with writer and scholar Angelique V. Nixon at The Writers Centre, 14 Alcazar Street, St. Clair, from 7 pm.

Described as “a pioneering intersectional novel of the LGBTQ+ and Caribbean-Canadian experience that was far ahead of its time”, Spirits in the Dark was first published in 1993, and reissued last year in a special 30th anniversary edition by Canadian publisher Esplanade Press. Social pressures and repressed sexuality are among the forces protagonist Jerome Quashee must contend with, as he comes to terms with his Afro-Caribbean culture and his own fears and ambitions.

This event will be presented in partnership with CAISO and the High Commission of Canada in Trinidad and Tobago, and High Commissioner Arif Keshani will deliver words of welcome to the distinguished author and other festival guests.

For the second half of the festival’s opening night, audiences can stroll one block south to CB’s Bar and Lounge at 15 Rust Street, where CAISO will present its high-energy BackChat event, an NGC Bocas Lit Fest fixture. With the theme “We Resist. We Empower. We Are Fierce,” BackChat celebrates LGBTQI+ voices through stories, poetry, and music, including an open mic event which writers are welcome to sign up to join.

On the following night, Friday 26 April, the festival celebrates another classic Caribbean novel: Dionne Brand’s At the Full and Change of the Moon, first published a quarter-century ago. The event at the Big Black Box — also free and open to the public — will include dramatised readings directed by actor elisha efua bartels and featuring Mandisa Granderson and Conrad Parris, plus an appearance by author Brand herself, and a music performance by 3canal.

At the Full and Change of the Moon opens in Trinidad in 1824, with a monumental act of rebellion by Marie-Ursule, an enslaved women and secret resistance leader. The story then follows six generations of her descendants as they wander from Trinidad to North America and Europe, restlessly searching for a better future while haunted by ghosts of the past.

Festival audiences will have another chance to encounter Dionne Brand — often described as a leading contender for a Nobel Prize in Literature — on Saturday 27 April, in a 10 am session at the Old Fire Station in downtown Port of Spain, this time focused on her poems. Brand will read from her book Nomenclature: New and Selected Poems and engage in a conversation with poet Shivanee Ramlochan on her work’s political commitment and deep formal experiment.

The full festival programme is online at .

The National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago is title sponsor of the NGC Bocas Lit Fest; OCM, First Citizens, the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts, and the British Council are main sponsors; Massy Foundation, UWI, and the JB Fernandes Memorial Trust are sponsors.


Thursday 25 April 

SPIRITS IN THE DARK: Celebrating the 30th anniversary of the groundbreaking novel by H. Nigel Thomas

The Vincentian-Canadian author reflects on his landmark debut novel, exploring Caribbean-Canadian LGBTQ+ issues, and what has and hasn’t changed a generation later — in an intimate, far-ranging conversation with Angelique V. Nixon

7.00–8.30 pm • The Writers Centre, 14 Alcazar Street

In partnership with the High Commission of Canada

CAISO presents BackChat: Celebrating Caribbean LGBTQI+ Voices: We Resist. We Empower. We Are Fierce.

A festival favourite returns: poetry and music, stories and celebration, with some of T&T’s most exciting LGBTQ+ voices and some surprise guests

9.00 pm until • CB’s Bar and Lounge, 15 Rust Street

Friday 26 April

AT THE FULL AND CHANGE OF THE MOON: A big night of words and music at the Big Black Box, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the landmark novel by Dionne Brand

A novel that ranges over centuries and continents, full of unforgettable voices and stories, At the Full and Change of the Moon is the definition of a classic. Author Dionne Brand reads from her fiction masterpiece, with dramatised readings by elisha efua bartels, Mandisa Granderson, and Conrad Parris, plus a performance by 3canal

7.00 pm until • Big Black Box, 33 Murray Street, Woodbrook

Saturday 27 April


Nomenclature: New and Collected Poems firmly establishes Dionne Brand as one of the major poets writing in any language today. Ranging from her experience of the Grenada Revolution to the Iraq War of the early 1990s to the catastrophes of the burning present, these poems combine an acute political awareness with deep formal experiment. She joins Shivanee Ramlochan for a wide-ranging conversation about literary commitment

10.00–11.00 am • Old Fire Station, Hart Street, Port of Spain

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