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Kei Miller Captures OCM Bocas Prize 2017

Kei Miller Wins 2017 OCM Bocas Prize

Buoyed by his tale of the flying preacher man, novelist, poet and essayist Kei Miller soared to the top to snatch the 2017 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature for his novel Augustown. And some would say, a ‘finally’ needs to be added to that sentence. The prolific Miller is the most longlisted writer for the Bocas Prize and the only writer to have been longlisted in all three categories - poetry, fiction and non-fiction - a sure comment on the dexterity and calibre of his pen.

Miller was first longlisted in 2011 for the inaugural Bocas Prize with A Light Song of Light, his third collection of poetry. Augustown, his third novel, was the fourth time his work was being considered for the prize. In 2014 he earned the non-fiction prize for his collection of essays Writing Down the Vision while his poetry collection The Cartographer Tries to Map the Way to Zion was longlisted for the 2015 prize. 

Miller's other awards have included the Forward Prize for Poetry (2014, The Cartographer Tries to Map the Way to Zion), and a silver Mugrave Medal from the Institute of Jamaica. The manuscript to Augustown was also shortlisted for the Una Marson award in 2015, an award Miller had previously earned with the manuscript for The Last Warner Woman.

Along with Miller, the 2017 shortlist OCM Bocas Prize winners comprised fellow Jamaican Safiya Sinclair, whose debut collection Cannibal earned the Bocas Prize for Poetry and Trinidadian Angelo Bissessarsingh, who earned the non-fiction prize for Virtual Glimpses into the Past / A Walk Back in Time: Snapshots of the History of Trinidad and Tobago.

Professor Edward Baugh was the overall chair of the 2017 prize. The poetry panel comprised David Dabydeen (Chair), Nancy Morejon, and Peter Straus. Susheila Nasta (Chair), Malaika Adero, and H. Nigel Thomas were the adjudicators on the fiction panel. The non-fiction award was adjudicated by Kim Robinson-Walcott (Chair), Aaron Kamugisha and Patricia Mohammed.

Previous winners of the OCM Bocas Prize are Derek Walcott (White Egrets, 2011), Earl Lovelace (It’s Just a Movie, 2012), Monique Roffey (Archipelago, 2013), Robert Antoni (As Flies to Whatless Boys, 2014), Vladimir Lucien (Sounding Ground, 2015) and Olive Senior (The Pain Tree, 2016).

The 2017 OCM Bocas Prize was announced during the 7th staging of the NGC Bocas Lit Fest in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago on Saturday, April 29, 2017.