Bocas Lit Fest

The recipients of the 2022 Bocas Emerging Writers Fellowships are Jannine Horsford for poetry and Rajiv Ramkhalawan for prose.

 

The two writers, both from Trinidad and Tobago, were announced on 12 April, 2022.

The newly appointed fellows have both been pursuing their craft for years, and have published their work in various regional and international magazines. Jannine Horsford is an alumna of the Cropper Foundation Caribbean Writers’ Workshop, the Callaloo Writers’ Workshop, and the Moko Magazine Poetry Masterclass. In 2021, she was longlisted for the Johnson and Amoy Achong Caribbean Writers Prize, administered by the Bocas Lit Fest. Rajiv Ramkhalawan, an attorney, was awarded the 2020 Cecile de Jongh Literary Prize by the magazine The Caribbean Writer, and he was previously shortlisted for the Beacon Street Prize and the Perito Prize, both for short fiction, and longlisted for the BCLF Elizabeth Nunez Award for Writers in the Caribbean, and the Fish Short Story Prize.

Horsford and Ramkhalawan will present samples of their work in progress during the 2022 NGC Bocas Lit Fest, Four Days to Change the World, streaming online from Thursday 28 April to Sunday 1 May.

From a total of over one hundred applicants, the judges previously shortlisted ten in each genre category. The shortlists, announced in February 2022, were:

POETRY

Topher Allen (Jamaica)

Xan-Xi Bethel (The Bahamas)
Neala Bhagwansingh (Trinidad and Tobago)
Johanna Gibson (British Virgin Islands)
Ubaldimir Guerra (Belize)
Jannine Horsford (Trinidad and Tobago)
Jay T. John (Trinidad and Tobago)
Gillian Moore (Trinidad and Tobago)
Ruth Osman (Guyana/Trinidad and Tobago)
Allyson Weekes (Trinidad and Tobago)

PROSE

Tracy Assing (Trinidad and Tobago)
Heather Barker (Barbados)
Ayrïd Chandler (Trinidad and Tobago)
Rachael Amanda Espinet (Trinidad and Tobago)
Amir Denzel Hall (Trinidad and Tobago)
Michelle John (Trinidad and Tobago)
Garvin Tafari Parsons (Trinidad and Tobago)
Rajiv Ramkhalawan (Trinidad and Tobago)
Ark Ramsay (Barbados)
Alexandra Stewart (Trinidad and Tobago)

The selection process included several rounds of assessment, with jurors including writers Andre Bagoo of T&T and Ann-Margaret Lim of Jamaica, as well as UK-based literary professionals Andrew Kidd, CEO of Arvon, and agent Chris Wellbelove. The jurors were chaired by Nicholas Laughlin, festival and programme director of the Bocas Lit Fest.

The Bocas Emerging Writers Fellowships, to be awarded simultaneously in 2022, are a pair of one-time fellowships for emerging Caribbean-based writers in English, in two categories: prose (fiction or non-fiction) and poetry. The fellowships were launched during A Map to the Door of No Return at 20: A Gathering, a virtual conference hosted by York University, Toronto, from 3 to 6 November, 2021, marking the twentieth anniversary of Dionne Brand’s landmark book.

First published in 2001, A Map to the Door of No Return: Notes to Belonging is recognised as a classic of recent Caribbean literature, and an influence on two generations of Caribbean and Black diaspora writers. Bringing together autobiography, history, travel writing, philosophy, poetry, and literary criticism, this genre-crossing narrative composed of fragments is indeed a map through which to explore and imagine questions of personal and collective identity and responsibility, the legacies of colonialism, the Black diaspora experience, and ideas of belonging, displacement, and home.

The Bocas Emerging Writers Fellowships are intended to support early-career Caribbean writers whose work explores similar questions, ideas, and genre-crossing forms. The fellowships will run for a period of six months, during which both writers will receive support in advancing or completing a book manuscript or other body of work.

The fellowships are made possible by generous donations from Canisia Lubrin, winner of the overall 2021 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature; Dionne Brand, winner of the 2019 OCM Bocas Prize in the fiction category; Christina Sharpe, judge for the 2022 OCM Bocas Prize in the fiction category; and Allyson Holder.

Each fellowship consists of:

  • A cash award of TT$10,000;
  • Six months’ mentorship from an established author;
  • Publication of a chapbook with an excerpt from the writer’s work in progress;
  • Participation in a one-week intensive online writing workshop hosted by Arvon (UK)
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