The 10th annual literary festival was an unimagined reality. As the Bocas Lit Fest team approached 2020, our excitement grew, imagining how we could make the entire year memorable and suitably special after ten consecutive years. 2020 called to mind the old adage “be careful what you wish for because you just might get it” because the Covid-19 pandemic forced us to pivot and was the catalyst for creating a whole new experience for audiences way beyond our wildest dreams, stretching the imagination. We had to rapidly acquire many new skills and reinvent a lot of what we thought we had down pat.
It was a huge test, and we passed with flying colours! We trust that our patrons appreciated our reimagined, very first, wholly virtual festival. All year, we hosted literary events online, streamed on Facebook and/or via our website at least twice per week and occasionally as many as three or four.
The highlight of our 2020 endeavours was the programme for our three-day online festival. We retained as many elements as possible from our usual festival: readings, book launches, commissioned new writing, panel discussions, Stand and Deliver, the Extempo debate, children’s events, and prize givings and we added some exciting new and engaging elements but sadly we were not able to meet up in person or wander through the arcades and passageways of our beautiful National Library and Old Fire Station, where the spirit of Derek Walcott lingers, and probably yearns for our return.
We definitely missed the chat over the booksellers’ stalls and the conversing at the lunch tables, but our efforts enabled us to still feed the souls of literary lovers with the richness of the literary offerings, which in 2020 were brought to you while on the move with your phone or tucked up on your sofa with your laptop.
It was an indulgent weekend of pure, first-class, Caribbean stories and the exchange of ideas. This extraordinary year was also a bumper year for our writers, many of whom were published for the first time and others won prizes for their debut and recent work.
At this landmark juncture, the BLF thanks all the writers, readers, partners, sponsors, children, supporters, hand-holders, collaborators, booksellers, and publishers with whom we have journeyed for the last 10 years. But most of all I wish to thank the Bocas Lit Fest team and board of directors, without whom none of it would have been possible. You have been and continue to be quite remarkable and the journey now start.