Trinidad and Tobago has had book fairs and literary events over the years but
these are few in comparison to the number of books published by Caribbean
authors all over the world. Nor does the Caribbean region have a major award for
literature, when it has produced some literary greats, including three Nobel
That is all set to change next April when a new annual prize for Caribbean
literature is launched. The OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, with a
$10,000 USD cheque attached, courtesy the One Caribbean Media group, will be
awarded to the best book published in 2010. The book will be chosen from the
winner in each of three categories – fiction, literary non-fiction and poetry.
Published writers who are Caribbean by birth or citizenship living and working
anywhere in the world will be eligible for the Prize, which is the first
indigenous Caribbean prize for Literature. The ten international judges, all
Caribbean in origin, will produce a short list by 28th March 2011 and the winner
will be announced on 30th April 2011.
The new literary award will be one of the highlights of an annual literary
festival, the Bocas Lit Fest, also being launched in March and sponsored by
Republic Bank, OCM, Flow, KFC, British Gas, and still un-announced other
sponsors. Weekend events are planned for the month of April, culminating in a
four-day event that the organisers expect to take place at NAPA, the National
Academy of the Performing Arts, in Port of Spain, between 28 April and 1 May.
The last weekend of April has been the date designated for the event every year.
Founder of the annual Prize and of the Bocas Lit Fest, Marina Salandy-Brown,
explained, “It will bring together writers of all sorts, local, regional and
international, wannabe and secret writers, readers, booksellers, publishers,
agents and everyone in the business of writing and those taking pleasure from
it. There will be readings, performances, workshops, panel discussions, children
storytelling, book singings, book launches, drama and music, the chance to get
feedback on your work in progress and to buy the newest titles.
And although we
are calling it a literary festival, because so much of our literary tradition is
derived from our oral and folklore tradition we are thinking of it more as a
festival of words. That’s one reason why we have called it the Bocas Lit Fest –
to do with the mouth. We will be catering too for those interested in creating
lyrics and storytelling.”
The announcement of the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature and the
Bocas Lit Fest was made at the International Convention of Caribbean Literature
held in Port of Spain in November. All the information for entry is at: