On November 12th and 13th, the NGC Bocas Lit Fest South returned to the San Fernando Hill for its third South festival, and it couldn’t be any clearer: the towns and villages past the lighthouse were brimming with talent honed and nurtured in their own home ground.
Lance Dowrich, winner of 2016’s Caribbean arm of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, cited his San Fernando roots as a major source of inspiration. Dowrich, on a fiction panel with fellow regional Commonwealth Short Story Prize winner (2015) Kevin Jared Hosein, was full of sage advice for aspiring writers. The panel also included first time novelist Aliyyah Eniath, and Icacos-based writer Michael Cozier, who was shortlisted for 2016’s CODE Burt Award for Caribbean YA Literature.
Fiction was far from the only focus of Bocas South as the festival strived to bridge the seeming gaps between printed matter and other media, showing how books, films, art, dance and theatre are more closely linked than they seem. The programme included The Oratory Foundation who staged a Shakespeare showcase, under the direction of Deborah Jean-Baptiste-Samuel.
The discussion panels at Bocas South emphasized the need for care and attention in all parts of T&T, unwittingly underscoring the value of decentralization. The programme included a panel discussion on The Politics of Cultural Preservation and was comprised of visual artist Joshua Lue Chee Kong, Ricardo Bharath Hernandez, Akilah Jaramogi, and Francis Lovell.
Judy Raymond chaired a New Stories from the Past panel, accompanied by Bridget Brereton, Danielle Delon, and Valerie Taylor. The theme was the significance of writing history books – and of how those histories come from far and wide, including unexpected nooks and enclaves on the T&T map.
Mayaro-born Michael Anthony, author of a tremendous volume of work, both fiction and non-fiction, inspired by his origins in southeastern Trinidad special banner event was held in honour of his work. Anthony’s seminally beloved classic, Green Days by the River, has been adapted for the silver screen by director Michael Mooledhar, and was released in 2017.
The South Bocas Big Idea discussion, Life after Oil’s panelists included theNGC’s Curtis Mohammed, AACCLA’s Nicholas Galt, and Venezuelan filmmaker Jorge Thielen Armand to discuss the seriousness of T&T’s economic situations without oil. Bocas’ Big Idea talks proved that books couldn’t be closer to the heart of everyday living.Our collaboration with valuable creative partners including Green Screen – The Environmental Film Festival, The Oratory Foundation, the NGC Sanfest and others, enabled the South’s own stories to shine.