'WELL DONE': Poet Loretta Collins Klobah receives her OCM Bocas prize (Poetry) from writer George Lamming during Saturday's NGC Bocas Lit Fest 2012 awards function at UTT NAPA campus, Keate Street, Port of Spain. —Photo: CURTIS CHASE

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Lovelace savours Lit Fest victory

THE THIRD night of the annual NGC Bocas Lit Fest served up fantastic music, gripping poetry and lots of love for local author, playwright and OCM Bocas prize winner 2012, Earl Lovelace.

It was a two-part affair on Saturday night at the National Academy for the Performing Arts, Port of Spain.

The first half featured the mellifluous voice of tenor Edward Cumberbatch transporting the audience with songs of old by Peter Warlock. He was strongly backed up by the very talented University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) musicians.

The UTT musicians would feature again with the world premiere of The Old Yard: Carnival Portraits from Trinidad which can only be described as an audio-visual feast.

Five traditional Carnival characters — the Bat, Blue Devil, Moko Jumbie, Midnight Robber and Dame Lorraine — were each brought to life by the masterful spoken word poetry of Muhammad Muwakil, the string, wind and percussion instruments of the UTT band and the vibrant images of photographer Maria Nunes.

The musical pieces were composed by Adam Walters, who captured the spirit of each character, from the terrifying blue devil to the jaunty Dame Lorraine, deftly with each arrangement.

The second half of the event was for the presentation of the second annual One Caribbean Media (OCM) Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature of US $10,000; OCM is the parent company of Caribbean Communications Network (CCN) of which the Express and TV6 are part.

Bocas Lit Fest founder Maria Salandy-Brown, in her remarks, noted that prizes were very important as they recognised the talent, skill and dedication of writers.

"At home we have taken them for granted," she added.

She reported that there were 40 titles entered and they were judged by a panel of 11. From a short list of ten writers there were winners in three categories: Lovelace, winner of the fiction category of the 2012 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature with his most recent novel Is Just a Movie; The Twelve-Foot Neon Woman by Loretta Collins Klobah of Puerto Rico, the winner of the poetry category; and George Price: A Life Revealed by Godfrey P Smith from Belize, the winner of the nonfiction category.

Salandy-Brown noted one of this country's most esteemed "local authors" was going up against two "first timers".

She said while some have suggested the prize should be only for newcomers. "I think that to be able to be accomplished and excellent with the internationally acknowledged masters of the craft must boost the confidence of emerging writers".

She added that while people have said that Caribbean writing is "on the wane", the competition showed that it was actually "ubiquitous".

Chair of the fiction panel Ellah Allfrey said Lovelace was at the "top of his game" with his latest novel and his "exuberant characters" and "heartbreaking love scenes" left the judges "dazzled".

In the video interviews Smith said he was privileged to be short listed with Lovelace whose works, The Dragon Can't Dance and Wine of Astonishment, he grew up reading. Collins Klobah also said she felt honoured to be shortlisted with the author. Chief judge and Barbadian author George Lamming announced that Is Just a Movie would be taking home the prize.

Lovelace in his acceptance speech thanked OCM for the prize and joked that he had a "little piece of paper" like the Academy Awards. He also thanked his family, friends, "fellow travellers" and the people of Matura, Valencia, Rio Claro and Laventille "whose lives and beauty I have drawn upon for my fiction".

He added: "And let me thank you the people of this country, who while there has been no institutional support have stood behind me, appreciative of the efforts I have made, to render our lives, our beauty and stupidity...our heroism and our hopes".

The winner of the first OCM Bocas Lit Prize last year was St Lucian poet, playwright and Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott for his collection of poetry White Egrets.

The four-day Lit Fest ended yesterday.

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