NGC Bocas Lit Fest: joyful toast to T&T jubilee

With an official programme of the 50th anniversary Independence celebrations, advertised to coincide with the week of NGC Bocas Lit Fest 2012, a major national commemoration is well and truly launched. On Thursday, the opening event of the NGC Bocas Lit Fest will directly address 50 years of independence with readings from the works some of the biggest T&T literary names—VS Naipaul, Sam Selvon, Derek Walcott, Eric Williams and the one-time newspaper columnist, “Macaw”.

It seems entirely fitting that the efforts be conjoined toward remembering that singular defining moment, when Trinidad and Tobago joined the world family of nations. The official programme, as released by the Ministry of the Arts and Multiculturalism, extends toward December.

Bocas, however, will have packed an impressive array of activities into just four days, ending next Sunday. Some 80 activity items have been organised to fill those days. They include discussions, readings, workshops, performances and workshops, related to an all-embracing idea of T&T and Caribbean literary and artistic endeavours.

In the drive to expand the coverage of Bocas, a schedule of pre-festival activities formed an eye-catching build-up to this week’s exercises. In only its second year, Bocas Lit Fest has shown itself credibly capable of securing participation by leading figures in literature and the arts, and those with an acknowledged interest in those areas.

A Pigeon Point Bocas Lime featured in that scenic setting last month, former prime minister and former president ANR Robinson, reading from his new memoir. Also on that bill, Earl Lovelace read from his latest book.

Mr Lovelace’s Is Just a Movie, has been judged winner of the fiction category of the 2012 One Caribbean Media Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature. Legendary Caribbean author George Lamming serves as chief judge this year for the OCM Bocas Prize. One highlight on Saturday evening will be the announcement and award, in a ceremony at the National Academy for the Performing Arts, of the winner of the 2012 OCM Bocas Prize.

The many other high points of the rich NGC Bocas Lit Fest programme range from a master class in calypso composition delivered by Llewellyn ‘Short Pants’ McIntosh to signature events in the NGC Bocas Lecture and Debate. The debate, over TV6’s Morning Edition this week, will present perspectives on the Independence experience in assorted areas of national life.

Organisers have succeeded in securing the support of stakeholders in the Writers’ Union of Trinidad and Tobago, which will pay tribute to writer and critic Willi Chen. The Writers’ Union will also provide readings from works by their members.

In all this, the 2012 NGC Bocas Lit Fest represents a rare good-news story, reporting literary aspiration and achievement. Over this week, artists and would-be artists, readers, writers, critics, musicians, filmmakers and others can be imagined, under the Bocas auspices, raising a joyful toast to the golden jubilee of T&T.

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