2016 was a special year for literature lovers as two of the world’s most beloved writers William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes died 400 years prior and were buried just days apart. Did they ever meet or even think that centuries on millions of us would be reading their work as if it were of our time?
We were very pleased to join the rest of the English and Spanish speaking world to celebrate these two literary greats and bring them together at this year’s festival. We put together an eclectic programme of events to get our audiences actively engaged in celebrating those giants of literature.
Bringing English and Spanish literature together took another unique turn in 2016 with CineLit, the first Latin American and Caribbean Literary film festival featuring films never seen in T&T before including international film award winners, based on books and about the incredible people who wrote them.
The celebration continued with 200 years of the Merikins, 125 years of cricket at the Queen’s Park Oval, 95 years of Wilson Harris, 50 years of Wide Sargasso Sea, 60 years of Sparrow’s Jean and Dinah and his brilliant career, and 40 years of the art of Trini talk with Paul Keens-Douglas. We rediscovered the work of Victor Questel and Phyllis Shand Allfrey and we highlighted the new in conversation, launches and prizes.
Children had a wonderful, special day at the Oval and lots of activities at the Children’s Library. Young Adults had 3 new Burt Award winning books to get their teeth into and Writers First was dedicated to debut and self-published writers. Crime and speculative fiction were on the agenda again as two exciting literary genres drawing Caribbean writers. We explored the Ramayana, that epic of world literature and discover a Caribbean epic, Hiroona.
Also in the mix was a host of the very best Caribbean writers, new ideas, debate about such hot themes as Calypso and Human Rights and workshops. The Bocas oral tradition featured the Bookman, the Black Indians, Midnight Robbers, an Extempo duel, adult storytelling and Open Mic. Spoken Word poets went to the Breakfast Shed and the National Library team offered library tours and advice on caring for literary gems.