Jamaican poets take centre stage at Bocas 2022

Jamaican literary and cultural icon Louise Bennett-Coverley will be the focus of an important event at the 2022 NGC Bocas Lit Fest. Three icons of Jamaican poetry—Olive Senior (Poet Laureate) and Pamela Mordecai—and one acclaimed newcomer—Jason Allen-Paisant—will be among the featured authors at the annual literary festival headquartered in Trinidad and Tobago. The Gleaner reports:

Running from April 28 to May 1 with the theme ‘Four Days to Change the World’, the festival will once more be presented online, with events livestreamed via the website bocaslitfest.com and on the YouTube and Facebook platforms. The entire festival programme is free to all, with no tickets or registration required.

Jamaica’s current Poet Laureate, Olive Senior, will headline the festival’s closing event on May 1, along with poet Pamela Mordecai. Both writers are considered among the most vital and innovative voices in contemporary Caribbean poetry, and 2022 brings new collected volumes of their poems, which they will read from and discuss at Bocas 2022. Senior’s Hurricane Watch (published in January by the UK’s Carcanet Press) and Mordecai’s A Fierce Green Place (coming up in May from the US publisher New Directions) both combine new poems with selections from the authors’ previous books, offering summaries of two outstanding literary careers. Mordecai and Senior will read from their poems and join a conversation with St Lucian writer Canisia Lubrin, winner of the 2021 OCM Bocas Prize.

ENDURING SIGNIFICANCE

Meanwhile, literary and cultural icon Louise Bennett-Coverley will be the focus of another NGC Bocas Lit Fest event on April 28. 100+ Voices for Miss Lou, a new anthology edited by Opal Palmer Adisa and published by UWI Press, brings together a diverse range of essays, poems, and tributes. In a special ‘Required Reading’ session at Bocas 2022, Palmer Adisa – herself a celebrated poet – will introduce the book and talk about Miss Lou’s enduring significance and relevance for contemporary Jamaican and Caribbean readers.

The 2022 NGC Bocas Lit Fest will also feature a talented new Jamaican poet whose work is already winning plaudits. Jason Allen-Paisant – born in Coffee Grove, Manchester, and currently based in Britain – is the winner of the 2022 OCM Bocas Prize for Poetry for his debut book Thinking with Trees (published by Carcanet Press). He is now a contender for the overall cross-genre prize, alongside Jamaican Kei Miller, winner of the 2022 OCM Bocas Prize for Non-Fiction for his essay collection Things I Have Withheld, and Trinidadian debut author Celeste Mohammed, winner of the 2022 OCM Bocas Prize for Fiction for her novel Pleasantview.

The three winners will read from their work in the OCM Bocas Prize ceremony on Saturday, April 30, when chief judge Roger Robinson will announce the winner, who will take home a cash award of US$10,000, sponsored by the T&T-based regional company One Caribbean Media.

The 2022 NGC Bocas Lit Fest includes 20 events and dozens more writers from across the Caribbean and the diaspora. Other programme highlights include discussions on the Trinidad and Tobago intellectual C.L.R. James and the Guyanese activist Andaiye, a showcase of contemporary Puerto Rican poets, a Friday-night celebration of Caribbean LGBTQI+ writing, and a ‘Big Idea’ discussion panel on how the Caribbean must respond to the existential threat of climate change.

For original article, see https://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/news/20220419/jamaican-poets-take-centre-stage-bocas-2022

[Shown above: Poets Olive Senior (Poet Laureate of Jamaica) and Pamela Mordecai.]

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