Tag Archives: Bocas

A Little Perspective

The long list of the OCM Bocas Prize was announced this weekend and an Antiguan and Barbudan writer/book/subject is on the list! 2136dd3c-42db-4ee4-841a-70fa52ac3d4cThe writer, Dorbrene O’Marde; the book, Nobody Go Run Me; the subject, Short Shirt . Maybe it will get some press here at home – whether you believe as I do that Short Shirt is the epitome of Antiguan and Barbudan calypso artistry, he is one of our cultural and calypso icons after all – whatever he does is news (right?), and Dorbrene is a well-established arts and media personality in his own right – from his days as Head of Harambee, widely acclaimed as the best of Antiguan theatre, to his current role as head and mouthpiece of the Antigua and Barbuda Reparations Support Commission (his profile certainly makes him news, right?). Plus Nobody Go Run Me was part of the news story that was the year-long anniversary celebration of Short Shirt’s 50 years in Calypso – something I, as a freelance journalist, covered for local publication Daily Observer, regional publication Zing, and, with specific reference to the book, am in the process of writing about for the Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books which has ties, through its editor Dr. Paget Henry, to Brown University in the USA. All of that to say, this news of O’Marde and Nobody Go Run Me making the long list of a major Caribbean prize is news and probably won’t get lost in the shuffle. Probably. But, just in case, I want to bring a little perspective.

When Antigua and Barbuda’s name is hollered for major literary prizes – PEN/Faulkner, the Guggenheim, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, American Book Award to name a few, it’s usually followed by Jamaica Kincaid. You won’t find her face on any of our many, many roadside billboards but she is a literary celebrity by any stretch of the imagination and, though her nom de plume references a larger island in the northern Caribbean, she is from the Ovals community right here in the 268. She has been and continues to be an inspiration for writers like me and others – from places like Ottos, Antigua and places far removed from it, where young girls dream of daring to write unconventionally, compellingly…uncomfortably, truthfully.

For many, Antiguan and Barbudan literature in as much as it even exists – and for many it doesn’t – begins and ends with Jamaica.

Because of this oversight, every pebble that ripples the water, reminding the larger Caribbean and international community that we are here (arwe yah!) matters.

When Brenda Lee Browne, in 2013, made the long list of the Hollick Arvon Caribbean Writers Prize – a prize which allows an emerging Caribbean writer time and resources to advance a work in progress – to date the only Antiguan and Barbudan of 22 long listed writers between 2013 and 2014, it mattered.

When an Antiguan and Barbudan book, in 2014, made the short list and went on to place second for the first ever Burt Award for Young Adult Caribbean fiction, it mattered.

There weren’t headlines here at home for either of these breakthroughs, both administered by the team behind the BOCAS literary festival in Trinidad, and presented during the awards ceremony there, but as far as creating ripples in the water, they mattered.

Well, the OCM Bocas Prize is the biggest award presented at that festival. For Caribbean writers, with the Commonwealth Book and First Book awards now just a memory and the other major literary awards of the world not impossible to reach – as 2015 Frost medalist Kamau Brathwaite’s accomplishment recently reminded us – but a stretch (and, don’t get me wrong, stretching is good), the OCM Bocas Prize is one of the few opportunities remaining. It is specific to us, demands the best of us, rewards the best among us. Since its launch in 2011, it has been won by Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott (White Egrets); Earl Lovelace (Is Just a Movie) – who also took the Grand Prize from the Caribbean Congress of Writers for the same book; Monique Roffey (Archipelago) – previously shortlisted for the Orange Prize for another book, White Woman on the Green Bicycle; and former Guggenheim fellowRobert Antoni (As Flies to Whatless Boys). Its long list has been a who’s who of Caribbean literati – Edwidge Dandicat, Kendel Hippolyte, Lorna Goodison, Kei Miller… and no Antiguans and Barbudans, until now 2015 with O’Marde’s book, Nobody Go Run Me. The book is in formidable company as there are no also-rans in this line up – Miller’s the Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion is already the winner of the prestigious Forward Prize in the UK, Marlon James (did you catch him this past week on Late Night with Seth Myers on NBC?) landed on several year-end best of lists in 2014 (TIME, New York Times, Amazon etc) and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in the US thanks to his Brief History of Seven Killings, Roffey’s House of Ashes was a finalist for the Costa Award, Tiphanie Yanique’s Land of Love and Drowning has already won the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, Elizabeth Nunez’s Not for Everyday Use has been dubbed by Oprah.com as one of the Best Memoirs of the past year, the author of Dying to Better Themselves, Olive Senior, is a previous winner of the aforementioned (and no longer) Commonwealth Writers Prize, and Tanya Shirley’s The Merchant of Feathers and Vladimir Lucien’s Sounding Ground have been receiving all kinds of critical acclaim. Nobody Go Run Me (described in the Bocas release as “…a carefully researched biography of Antigua’s most celebrated calypsonian and a history of Antiguan society and culture in the crucial decades after independence.”) deservedly claims its place among these great works. I hope that isn’t overlooked, as things of this nature tend to be, here at home.

It matters.

As with all content (words, images, other) on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight,  Fish Outta Water, Oh Gad! and Burt Award finalist Musical Youth). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about WadadliPen and my books. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, with credit, are okay, lifting whole content (articles,  images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

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The Long Arm of the Lawless

The Long Arm of the Lawless, a short story by Barbara Jenkins, has won much praise and a trip to Scotland for its author.

The theme of crime writing was introduced during the 2014 NGC Bocas Lit Fest in partnership with Bloody Scotland, Scotland’s International Crime Writing Festival, and the British Council.

Participants in a one-day workshop, led by two prize-winning Scottish crime writers, were encouraged to enter a mini Bloody Scotland short story competition with the winner being offered an all-expenses-paid trip to the Bloody Scotland Festival as part of an ongoing international exchange between the two events.

Dom Hastings, Festival director, says, “We were delighted to be able to attend the NGC Bocas Lit Fest earlier this year, both to showcase Scottish writing and experience a fantastic festival and burgeoning literary scene. I’m incredibly excited to be able to bring a small piece of this back to Scotland and invite a Trinidadian writer as talented at Barbara to our Festival in 2015.”

As a guest of Bloody Scotland, Barbara Jenkins will attend a crime writing masterclass with the University of Stirling and be introduced to the Scottish literature scene. The author says, “I am thrilled. This is my first crime story but I do plan to continue to mine real life in Trinidad for inspiration. Denise Mina and Allan Guthrie led an inspiring workshop. They even got us started writing at the workshop. From then, there was no way I could just let their gift lie unused. I must thank the NGC Bocas Lit Fest for creating this opportunity.”

The annual NGC Bocas Lit Fest is sponsored by the National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago as title sponsor, and is also supported by the Ministry of Planning and Sustainable Development, Courts, First Citizens and Flow. Its local partners include One Caribbean Media. The British Council, Commonwealth Foundation, Arvon and CODE are among its international partners. The 2015 Festival takes place from April 29 – May 3, 2015 at the National Library and the adjacent Old Fire Station, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.

See the website: www.bocaslitfest.com  or contact the Bocas Lit Fest at
info@bocaslitfest.com.

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Finalists for Inaugural Burt Award for Caribbean Literature Announced!

We are proud to announce the finalists of the inaugural Burt Award for Caribbean Literature. The Burt Award for Caribbean Literature was established by CODE – a Canadian charitable organization that has been advancing literacy and learning for 55 years – in collaboration with William (Bill) Burt and the Literary Prizes Foundation. The Award is the result of a close collaboration with CODE’s local partners in the Caribbean, The Bocas Lit Fest and CaribLit.
The shortlisted titles are:
·       Island Princess in Brooklyn by Diane Browne, Jamaica (published by Carlong)

·       All Over Again by A-dZiko Simba Gegele, Jamaica (published by Blouse & Skirt Books)
·       Barrel Girl by Glynis Guevara, Trinidad and Tobago (manuscript to be published)
·       Musical Youth by Joanne [C] Hillhouse, Antigua and Barbuda (manuscript to be published)
·       Abraham’s Treasure by Joanne Skerrett, Dominica (published by Papillotte Press)
·       Inner City Girl by Colleen Smith Dennis, Jamaica (published by LMH Publishing)
Congratulations to the finalists! And thank you to all writers who participated in the inaugural Burt Award for Caribbean Literature. The first, second and third place winners will be announced on Friday 25 April during the NGC Bocas Lit Fest in Port of Spain.

Read the attached press release for all the details, or click here.

Regards,

The Bocas Lit Fest team

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TEN ON BOCAS LONG LIST

Writers from five countries are in the running for the 2014 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, sponsored by One Caribbean Media.

The Prize longlist, announced by the judges on 25 February, 2014, covers poetry, fiction, and literary non-fiction. The winners in the three genre categories will be announced on 30 March, and the Prize will be presented on 26 April, during the fourth annual NGC Bocas Lit Fest in Port of Spain. The overall winner of the Prize will receive a US$10,000 award. READ MORE

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Bocas

“We tend to accord the full measure of our respect to singers, authors or intellectuals only when they have been properly certified elsewhere. Predictably, this neglect encourages a widespread exodus of creative talent and leaves little behind to inspire or nurture the next generation of artists and writers.” This was just one of the interesting points made by a staffer at Guyana’s Stabroek News, reporting on the recently wrapped Bocas Literary Festival in T & T. Go here to read more.

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BOCAS – YEAR TWO

Peeped this one over at the Caribbean Literary Salon which had picked it up from the Trinidad Guardian. It’s the Bocas Literary Prize which debuted last year as an entity with the first prize being won by that giant of Caribbean literature, Nobel Prize winning Derek Walcott. It’s set the bar high but perhaps that’s as it should be with a US$10,000 jackpot. The referenced article announces the launch of the 2012 prize in which books released in 2011 by writers who are Caribbean by either birth or citizenship, resident anywhere in the world, are eligible. “The best book is chosen from the winner in each of three categories—non-fiction, fiction and poetry,” the article reminds. “The judges will produce a shortlist in March and the winner will be announced on April 28, 2012 at an award ceremony that is a highlight of the four-day Bocas Lit Fest, held annually on the last weekend of April at the National Library in Port-of-Spain.”

I really want to try to get to Trinidad for the April 26th to 28th 2012 Bocas Festival, though, with my next book dropping in 2012, I won’t be eligible for prize consideration until 2013. *fingers crossed*

It really sounds like a fun, stimulating event; and I almost always find literary fests both motivating and entertaining. So…

If you want to check out Bocas, either just to be there, or to throw your book into the ring; here’s where you go to find out more.

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