Bocas Lit Fest

The Write Away! offers engaging digital content to support online English classes, available to all secondary schools via the Ministry of Education’s School Learning Management System. Produced by the Bocas Lit Fest and sponsored by The Scotiabank Foundation, the Write Away! is designed to keep students and teachers motivated and engaged in reading, writing and online learning this year.

The Write Away! includes five virtual creative writing workshops, a teacher’s guide and a digital booklet of excerpts from award-winning Caribbean YA books, giving students access to exciting, culturally-relevant books of all genres that can foster a lifelong love of reading. Led by the award-winning author Lisa Allen-Agostini, the workshops break down the essentials of creative writing, and covers everything from character building to planning your plot and scene setting.  

In the first term of the 2020-2021 school year, 9 secondary schools participated in the Write Away! project: Arima North Secondary, Belmont Secondary, Fyzabad Secondary, Marabella North Secondary, Pleasantville Secondary, San Juan North Secondary, St. James Secondary, Tableland Secondary and Waterloo Secondary. In addition to the digital package, those schools received a donation of books for their school libraries to facilitate book clubs and reading groups, and guided writing support for their students from workshop facilitator Lisa Allen-Agostini.  

“Our priority at this time is ensuring that no student is left behind in this new digital learning space.  We are pleased that our sponsorship of the Write Away! Young Adult Literature Project will provide secondary school students with a platform to foster a love of creative writing and reading.” 

Roxane De Freitas – Chairperson, Scotiabank Trinidad and Tobago Foundation.

“On behalf of my students and my department, I want to express my gratitude for this resource. It is the type of resource I have been eager to find and make available to my students. I hope that the video package can be expanded to incorporate books that are part of our literary canon, as well as books published in the future. Additionally, I want to thank Bocas Lit Fest for including St. James Secondary in this workshop. It has been a memorable and enjoyable experience.”

Ms. K. Callender, Teacher II, St. James Secondary.

“Before I wouldn’t write dialogue a lot because it wasn’t something encouraged in school, but once I had that video in my hands, I got to watch it over and over to get an idea of the dos and don’ts, now I write dialogue in all my pieces.”

Jayden Phillip,  Form 5, Waterloo Secondary School.

Enjoy excerpts from stories by talented young writers in the Write Away! project below:

Jayden Phillip, age 16

Excerpt from The Backyard Graveyard

That spot, her spot. The spot where she would lie on, the perfect spot. The western sun would create a shadow from the house, there you still had a bit of light without the heat, but the warmth and cool, in equilibrium. She favoured that spot greatly, especially in the August days. Possibly she had known her final hours were near, and to not spend it all on chasing a bird. That too might have been difficult with all the pain she felt. So, she chose to live it out, in the spot she knew, she felt most comforted by. Why didn’t she come to me instead? Was she ashamed, was she scared or was she too proud? Why was I not given a final goodbye?

by Tonya Dorner, age 16

Excerpt from The Class Fight

“Good Morning Class,” said Mr Simmons our Mathematics teacher. “In today’s two period session we’ll be playing our final revision game for the term. Please form two lines the boys line to the right and the girls to the left, you all have two minutes to name your teams. The boys named themselves “Fire Boys” and the girls “The Butterflies Princesses”. As Sir started explaining the instructions for the game Maria shouted, “ We have been playing this game since form one, no need to explain again!” Suddenly Antonio, the tallest and most aggressive boy in our class, said, “ Shut up and listen.” Before Sir could have even started back his explanation, Maria and Antonio started shouting over the room disturbing the other class.

Hannah Isahack, age 14

Excerpt from The Feud

In Golden Oaks high, an incident occurred between two students named Oliver Mane and Mckayla Brown. Both are 16 years of age; they attend almost every class together and they both have a dislike towards each other. Mckayla grew up in the Caribbean but moved to California, she is known for having beautiful full curly hair and is popular in her grade. Oliver grew up in California and is the opposite in popularity. He had a small loyal friend group. But that all changed a few months ago, when Oliver had bumped into Mckayla in the cafeteria and accidentally spilled an entire plate of spaghetti and meatballs on her. She was embarrassed and didn’t take that as an accident in her eyes. Her desire was to get revenge on him, although he was genuinely sorry about it. This caused a feud between them which was a consistent every other day activity, insults would be thrown recklessly at each other when passing in the hallways. Punishments were never given because of their secrecy in engaging in these rebellious activities.

Thalia Harripersad

Excerpt from The Hurricane

I will never forget but sometimes I try to. It was two years ago that it all happened and I am terrified to go through a day like that again. Every time I hear the wind blowing and rain falling outside I get flashbacks. In June two years ago, my friend Alissa and I were on our way to school, when the wind started blowing very strong. We tried hurrying to reach to school before the rain began falling.  Our friend Leeann lived close to where we were, so we stopped there to shelter hoping we wouldn’t get soaked by the rain. Leeann invited us inside as the weather worsened. Moments later, I looked through the foggy window and knew that we were not going to school in this kind of weather. Leeann’s mother decided to call our parents and inform them that we were at her house and in good hands, well at least that’s what we thought…

Julissa London

Excerpt from The Hurricane (by Julissa London)

As the sun set and my brothers and I sat by the window watching lightning shoot across the gloomy sky like bullets, and leaves swirling in the air like a magic trick. “Mommy supposed to be home by now dawg, way she?” my scared little brother said with a look of fear. “Alyuh modda say she on work till de storm ova so she say watch alyuh,” responded our aunt Marsha, who then suggested that we go by her and spend the night. “What we going and do over dey, she have no internet and she TV not even good. Yuh hadda use a scissors to put it on, and on top ah dah yuh cyah even low up de volume,” my big brother said quietly to me and my little brother. With no excitement to spend the night over there, we argued our way into staying home.

Ahmarley Brereton, age 15

Excerpt from The Murder

Later that evening, David returned at 5:30 pm. He entered his home and called to his mother, “Mom! I’m home!”… No answer… “Mom? Are you there?” Still no answer. Steadily, David walked throughout the house. At this point he felt queer, extremely uneasy in his stomach. He knew, without a doubt in his mind something was definitely wrong. “Mom, I…” Abruptly, he stopped dead in his tracks. As he pushed the oak door to his mother’s bedroom, he saw blood splattered all over the teak flooring and sprawled on the bed, was his mother’s bloody body.

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