Friday 30 October, 2020

NGC Bocas Lit Fest begins today

The 2020 NGC Bocas Lit Fest, T&T’s first wholly virtual literary festival, begins today and runs until September 20.

COVID-19 health regulations mean that the usual in-person festival, based at the National Library and Old Fire Station in downtown Port of Spain, is off-limits.

Instead, a programme of 18 events over three festival days, involving 80 participants will be livestreamed, free of charge, via the festival website and social media.  The online festival combines a mix of NGC Bocas Lit Fest traditional and some wonderful new elements, while maintaining a focus on new books by Caribbean writers, alongside discussions and debates on current affairs, politics, and history.

Below is the schedule of events

Friday, September 18


In this special — and timely — lineup of events, we consider how writers from Trinidad and Tobago and across the Caribbean imagine possible futures for our region and the world. Curated in partnership with Karen Lord

4.30–5:30 pm

Stand and Deliver, Future Friday virtual edition

Our signature open mic event returns, in virtual form! Writers share their stories, poems, and musings, imagining how the Caribbean could evolve after the events of 2020. Hosted by Jayron Remy

6–7 pm

Circa 2120

A century from now, what might Caribbean history look like? What do our present concerns and opportunities suggest about the way ahead? Featuring readings by Brandon O’Brien, Shivanee Ramlochan, and Hadassah K. Williams

Presented in partnership with the Caribbean Futures Institute

7.30–8.30 pm

Back to the future

Four of the Caribbean’s best speculative fiction writers discuss how the genre helps us imagine alternatives for the future. Featuring Karen Lord, Tobias S. Buckell, Nalo Hopkinson, and Malka Older

Presented in partnership with the Caribbean Futures Institute


Saturday, September 19

12–1 pm

New Talent Showcase

Nadja Nabbe, Stacy Lela, Vanessa Salazar, Rakhee Kissoon, and Faith Jafferali, all recent students of the creative writing MFA programme at UWI, St. Augustine, share their work in progress, introduced by Muli Amaye

1.30-2.30 pm

Stand and Deliver, virtual edition

Another edition of our signature open mic event! Writers of all kinds and genres share their work in progress in this virtual session. Hosted by Jayron Remy

3–4.30 pm

The legacies of 1970

Fifty years after the Black Power Revolution shook the social foundations of Trinidad and Tobago, what are the legacies and lessons of this momentous event? A panel of activists and writers use 1970 as a point of departure in looking forward to urgent present-day issues of race and class. With Chike Pilgrim, Amílcar Sanatan, and Attillah Springer, chaired by Sunity Maharaj

4.30–5.30 pm

Revolution time

The year of the 50th anniversary of the Black Power Revolution in T&T also brought global protests against racism and social injustice. Four contemporary writers read new stories and poems that reflect upon 1970, 2020, and the links between. Featuring Lisa Allen-Agostini, Vahni Capildeo, Amílcar Sanatan, and Desirée Seebaran

6–7 pm

The personal is always political

Katherine Agyemaa Agard (of colour), Andre Bagoo (The Undiscovered Country), and 2020 OCM Bocas Prize non-fiction winner Tessa McWatt (Shame on Me) read from and discuss their new books in which deeply personal stories become prisms for examining bigger political histories. Chaired by Grace Aneiza Ali. Followed by a live Q&A from 7 to 7.15 pm

7.45–8 pm

Celebrating our 2020 prizewinners!

See OCM Bocas Prize winners Richard Georges, Edwidge Danticat, and Tessa McWatt and Johnson and Amoy Achong Caribbean Writers Prize winner Amanda Choo Quan receive their awards 

8–9 pm

The strength of islands

In difficult times, how does literature help us come to terms with adversity, and turn surviving into thriving? 2020 OCM Bocas prize overall winner Richard Georges of the British Virgin Islands (Epiphaneia), Celia Sorhaindo of Dominica (Guabancex), and Lasana Sekou of St Martin (Hurricane Protocol) share their poems and join a conversation led by Naila Folami Imoja of Barbados


Sunday, September 20

10.30 am–12 pm

A question of leadership

From the COVID-19 pandemic to the effects of climate change, the Caribbean region faces a time of crisis. Decades into Independence, what have our present political leaders learned from the past to navigate their citizens into the future? This high-level conversation brings together former Jamaican prime minister P.J. Patterson (My Political Journey), former attorney general of Belize Godfrey Smith (The Assassination of Maurice Bishop), and Canada-based Guyanese scholar Alissa Trotz, chaired by scholar Andy Knight. 

12–12.30 pm

Extempo debate 

Master calypsonians Black Sage and Brian London debate political leadership in T&T and around the world.

12.30–1:30 pm

Crick Crack Monkey at 50

We celebrate the half-century anniversary of Merle Hodge’s beloved classic novel with a virtual dramatised reading, adapted and directed by elisha efua bartels and featuring actors Isoke Edwards, Mandisa Granderson, and Conrad Parris


Family matters

T&T debut authors Caroline Mackenzie (One Year of Ugly) and Ingrid Persaud (Love After Love) share their new novels about family, love, secrets and secret crimes. Chaired by writer and journalist Ira Mathur

3–4 pm

Infinite islands

St. Lucian writers John Robert Lee (Pierrot) and Canisia Lubrin (The Dyzgraphxst) read from their ambitious new books of poems, rooted in St. Lucia and ranging globally, and discuss their ideas and influences with Vladimir Lucien

4.30–5.30 pm

Home and away

Jamaican-Canadian Zalika Reid-Benta (Frying Plantain) and Trinidadian Elizabeth Walcott-Hackshaw (Stick No Bills) read from their new short story collections, exploring the lives of contemporary women in T&T, Canada, and Jamaica. Chaired by Desirée Seebaran

6-7 pm

Tales of the islands

Award-winning writers Monique Roffey (The Mermaid of Black Conch) and Jacob Ross (Black Rain Falling) explain how their new novels, both set on imaginary Caribbean islands, explore questions of history, race, love and violence. Chaired by Ayanna Gillian Lloyd

7.30-8.30 pm

Launch of The Sea Needs No Ornament/El Mar No Necesita Ornamento

This groundbreaking new bilingual anthology of poems by Caribbean women, translated and edited by Loretta Collins Klobah and Maria Grau Perejoan, assembles powerful voices from across the region. Both translators talk to Nicole Roberts about the current surge of new Caribbean poetic talent and the need to share stories and ideas across language barriers. Plus readings in both English and Spanish by Legna Rodríguez Iglesias, Gloriann Sacha Antonetty-Lebrón, Ann-Margaret Lim, and Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné.

Watch the festival livestream at:

Free and accessible to all! No registration or tickets required

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