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Feasting on the Word - Bocas Day 2

Michael Anthony reads from Carnivals of Trindad while Sterling Henderon looks on

It’s Friday night in Port of Spain, and as any one will quickly tell you, its time to lime, to gather with your friends have a drink, something to eat and talk. So not surprisingly, Day two of the NGC Bocas Literary Festival 2012, ended with a gathering at nearby Martin’s, a bar and lounge. There the audience could sip on their beverage of choice while feasting on the words of the some of the best voices in the Caribbean, some present in the flesh and others invoked in spirit.

In the session, dubbed ’50 Not Out: A literary celebration of 50 years of Independence’, featured Mervyn Morris, Merle Hodge and Earl Lovelace who mong others showed that the established voices of Caribbean literature, our ‘ole fire-sticks’ continue to blaze with the enduring fire of their words. Younger voices were also represented through Kei Miller and Akhil Wallace.

The National Library of Trinidad and Tobago and Old Fire Station, home to the festival,  continued to be consumed by the power of the word throughout the day. It was a buffet of workshops, talks, readings and other performances. The Bocas festival clearly sees itself as an integral part of the discussion of Trinidad’s 50 years of independence, highlighting the ways in which books become the record of the nation’s development that extend beyond the literary to discussions about sports and carnival.

Michael Anthony in discussion with Sterling Hernandez explored the evolution of the Trinidad Carnival. Anthony, widly known for his young adult literature (Green Days By the River and The Year in San Fernando) has turned his attention to detailed exploration of one of the world’s most popular carnivals. His book The Carnivals of Trinidad and Tobago was launched late 2011. Cricket also received the literary treatment . The afternoon discussion titled ‘From the Pitch to the Page: the literature of cricket’ explored the intersection between the sport and literary writing.

Additionally, one of Fred D'Agularthe distinctive features of the festival is that interaction with the Caribbean's literary luminaries were not relegated to their session. So as the discussion with Michale Anthony on Carnival stumbled around the meaning of Creole, George Lamming, who had been quietly sitting in the audience, offered up a definition. Later, as Sharon Millar discussed her work and the audience grappled with the definition of Caribbean identity, Earl Lovelace tossed his 5 cents in the ring.

Publishing also received fair attention. Johnny Temple, Editor in Chief at Akashic books along with two of the editors from Akashic’s celebrated Noir series explored the challenges of publishing noir fiction in the Caribbean. Lisa Allen-Agostini, editor of Trinidad Noir and Achy Obejas, the editor of Havana Noir provided interesting perspectives on the matter. Havana Noir and Trinidad Noir were Akashic’s first Caribbean based Noir books, but they will not be the last as Temple announced that both Haiti Noir and Kingston Noir will be launched in the near future.

The day’s workshops focused on story development as well as form in poetry. In the morning Karen Lord and Rabindranath Maharaj took advanced prose writers on a journey geared at helping them take their stories to its best conclusion. Later, Kei Miller and Shara McCallum discussed form in poetry and how to break free from it.

The day also served up a rich offering of literary readings from Loretta Collins Klobah, Fawzia Kane, Fred D’Agular, Achy Obejas, Sharon Millar, Micolette Betthel, and Lelawattee Manoo-Rahming.

The Bocas Literary Festival 2012 opened on Thursday April 26, and continues through to Sunday April 29.