Bocas LitFest: the Trinidad & Tobago Literary Festival

Tomorrow, the first Bocas Lit Fest – Trinidad & Tobago Literary Festival kicks off! And Discover Trinidad & Tobago and Caribbean Beat are proud to be a part of it as media sponsors.

The Festival was founded by the dynamic Marina Salandy-Brown, and among the organisers are Caribbean Review of Books editor Nicholas Laughlin and co-founder and Managing Director of MEP, Jeremy Taylor.


From left to right: Edwidge Danticat; Derek Walcott; and Tiphanie Yanique


The inaugural festival is packed with some 50 events over four days, running from Thursday 28 April until Sunday 1 May.

Some of the highlights include:

  • The announcement of the 2011 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, the first major regional award recognising Caribbean writers of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. The short list includes White Egrets, by Derek Walcott (St. Lucia) in the poetry category; How to Escape from a Leper Colony, by Tiphanie Yanique (US Virgin Islands) in the fiction category;and Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work, by Edwidge Danticat (Haiti/USA) in the non-fiction category
  • A celebration of the 25th anniversary of Peepal Tree Press, a leading publisher of Caribbean fiction and poetry, featuring founder Jeremy Poynting, the launch of new Peepal Tree titles, and readings by Peepal Tree authors 
  • A Friday-night “poetry crawl” in Woodbrook, taking poetry off the page and the podium and into some of Port of Spain’s most popular nightspots.
  • Tributes to Trinidadian Keith Smith and Martiniquan Édouard Glissant, two beloved and recently deceased writers — one a master of the newspaper column, the other a champion of the Caribbean’s unique hybrid culture.
  • The Bocas Debate: first in an annual series of a high-level discussions of burning public-interest topics. This year’s subject: “Press vs. Government: the freedom to print what?”
  • “The lives of others”, a conversation about the privileges and perils of biography, featuring the prizewinning biographers of V.S. Naipaul, Ralph Ellison, and Frank Collymore, which includes Caribbean Beat editor Judy Raymond among the panellists
  • Readings by celebrated Caribbean authors, discussion panels, workshops, performance poetry and open mic sessions, film screenings, music, a full programme of events for children, and more.

So find your niche and dive in! Here are the details of the jam-packed schedule:

  • Wednesday 27 April (festival warm-up): programme
  • Thursday 28 April: programme
  • Friday 29 April: programme
  • Saturday 30 April: programme
  • Sunday 1 May: programme

Caroline is an editor and staff writer at MEP. She is also on MEP’s board of directors, and moonlights as an actor, singer, and director. She’s passionate about telling stories – on the page, on the stage, on screen – and in particular about documenting Caribbean lives and events. She’s currently trying to master unplugging from her iLife… For more: