As our friends and fans had come to expect, the 4th NGC Bocas Lit Fest was a packed programme of events celebrating words, stories, and ideas, and featuring a line-up of guests ranging from world-famous literary stars to new authors whose work enthusiasts would want to get to know.
We had grown so much that an extra day was added to the festival, facilitating five full days of readings, discussions, performances, workshops and film screenings, preceded by a full month of pre-festival events, beginning in March with a special two-day Bocas Tobago programme.
The April festival, our main event, drew writers and readers from around the Caribbean and further afield. Working all year-round, Bocas was also running an ambitious programme of activities to take our writers to new audiences and develop new writing talent. Bocas also participated in literary events in St Lucia and New York City, and staged successful Bocas South+Central mini-festivals in San Fernando and Chaguanas.
Our programme supported our firm commitment to finding and supporting new writing talent, here in Trinidad and Tobago and across the Caribbean region. That included the introduction of two new events: Who’s Next?, offering a sampler of the diverse voices of emerging writers in T&T, and Stand and Deliver, a new open-mic series where prose and poetry writers could try out their work in front of a public audience. The annual Hollick Arvon Caribbean Writers Prize, awarded for the first time in 2013, gave invaluable support to an emerging writer completing a book, offering not only a cash award but mentorship and networking opportunities.
A festival for all ages, the programme featured the NGC Children’s Bocas Lit Fest’s full slate of events for young readers, which included a Storytelling Caravan that moved around Trinidad and Tobago for an entire month. In 2014 we expanded our focus to include the young adult age group of 11- to 18-year-old readers. Our partnership with Canada-based CODE included the Burt Award for Caribbean Literature, which was awarded for the first time in 2014 — a bold intervention in Caribbean writing for young adults, rewarding both writers and publishers — and a series of workshops in Jamaica, Guyana, and Trinidad for writers of young adult books.
We continued our exciting partnership with the 2 Cents Movement, to energise young audiences across T&T year-round with spoken word events. The festival culminated with the finals of the hotly contested VERSES Bocas Poetry Slam — perhaps the most popular and uproarious event in our programme.
The NGC Bocas Lit Fest has always been a global space with special focus on Caribbean writers — we’re international! We proudly showcased the best writers from T&T and extraordinary writers from across the whole Caribbean, including Jamaica in the north to Guyana in the south, St. Kitts in the east to Belize in the west — and vibrant Caribbean communities in North America and Europe. We may not speak with the same accents or have the same rhythms, and our stories are diverse, but we share a history, a culture, and a vibrant, restless literature — which we annually boast about to the world.