Monday, January 22, 2018

‘Books can change lives’

NGC Bocas Lit Fest announces interactive prison project

DIGGING DEEPER: Lisa Burkett, second from right, NGC corporate communications manager, chats with Grace Achoy, from left, Heritage Library director; Marina Salandy-Brown, Bocas Lit Fest founder; Jason Julien, deputy CEO, First Citizens, and Gregory Camejo, Group Executive, Corporate Services, One Caribbean Media, during yesterday’s launch of the 2017 NGC Bocas Lit Fest at the National Library.

port of spain
Trinidadian writers Lisa Allen-Agostini and Kevin Jared Hosein are in the line-up for the 2017 Burt Award for Caribbean Literature.
The CODE Burt Award, which recognises outstanding writing for young adults by Caribbean authors, is part of the NGC Bocas Lit Fest. Viviana Prado-Nunez of Puerto Rico is also in the line-up of authors.
The writers were announced at a media launch of the 2017 Bocas Lit Fest yesterday at the National Library in Port of Spain, where it was also revealed that Joan Dayal, founder of Paper Based Bookshop, is the recipient of the Bocas Henry Swanzy Award.
Bocas Lit Fest founder Marina Salandy-Brown outlined the events for the annual week-long literary festival which will start on Wednesday, April 26 and end on Sunday, April 30. Salandy-Brown said the programme of activities is aimed at promoting literature as a vehicle for national development. This year on the literary itinerary is an interactive festival prison project facilitated by fashion designer Anya Ayoung Chee and writers Debbie Jacob and Dr Baz Dreisinger. This comes on the heels of a successful writing workshop for inmates at the Port of Spain jail last year.
“Last year, with the support of the Commissioner of Prisons and thanks to the invaluable efforts of writer and teacher Debbie Jacob, we sent one of our Bocas authors to the Port of Spain jail to read from his work and run a writing workshop. In 2017 we’re going back into the prison. We are working with Anya Ayoung Chee, Debbie Jacob, and one of our visiting writers, Dr Baz Dreisinger, on a special interactive festival prison project.
“Bocas believes that books can change lives, that the opportunity for self-expression through writing can make a difference — and if this intervention in our nation’s prison system can help just one or two inmates become productive citizens, then it’s more than worth the effort,” Salandy-Brown said.
Human rights issues 

Conversations on various social issues will also be addressed on the Bocas Lit Fest platform. The festival will bring together writers, activists, politicians and judges to discuss press freedom, the criminal justice and prison systems, and LGBT rights.
“In 2017, we’ve decided to dig even deeper, with a series of debates looking at some of the major human rights issues facing our society, spread across the festival. And there’s an opportunity for the rest of us to join in; we’re also hosting a special human rights open-mike session, called ‘Stand up for your rights’, where budding writers and musicians can share their poems and songs addressing social issues,” Salandy-Brown said.
There will also be a series of events largely catering to the youths with events highlighting poetry and prose with various events including the First Citizens National Poetry Slam and “Poetry Forward”.
The festival will also explore the ideas of two of Trinidad and Tobago’s most profound thinkers on politics and society with a day-long series of events reconsidering the legacy of the late CLR James. Other events include a Derek Walcott tribute, the staging of an excerpt from a new play by writer Raymond Ramcharitar and a tribute to visionary thinker Lloyd Best on the tenth anniversary of his death. On March 27, the writers who have contributed in poetry, fiction and non-fiction genres will be announced, to go on to compete for the overall OCM Bocas Prize of US$10,000. The OCM Bocas Prize ceremony will be a festival highlight on the evening of Saturday, April 29.
The Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts has come on board as a main sponsor for the 2017 festival.