The typical image of the Caribbean, in the minds of many, is a beach lined with palm trees. It’s true that this part of the world has its share of spectacular coastline, but Caribbean landscapes are much more diverse than that: lofty mountains, rolling savannahs, teeming forests — and of course bustling cities.
During the month of April 2011, the Bocas Lit Fest hosted the first of its now beloved literary festivals. It started with outreach events all over Trinidad and Tobago, and the main festival was held from Thursday 28 April to Sunday 1 May in the heart of the capital at two landmark venues that would become its home. These buildings were the National Library and the adjoining Old Fire Station, a heritage building that was once home to the Trinidad Theatre Workshop.
The Bocas Lit Fest filled the entire ground floor of the library compound for four days, with events ranging from headline literary readings to workshops for aspiring writers, performance poetry and open mike sessions, discussions and interviews with authors of recent books, a full programme of children’s activities, the award ceremony for the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature — and even more.
All this happened just steps away from the downtown buzz and action. Some literary festivals have a laid-back vibe, but from its inception, the Bocas Lit Fest plugged into the urban energy of Port of Spain, with some curbside performances and satellite events in and around other parts of the city, including a Friday-night poetry crawl.
We were thrilled that NALIS, the Trinidad and Tobago National Library and Information System Authority, partnered with the Bocas Lit Fest to host this celebration of books, writing, and writers and continues to do so to this day.