Introducing the Bocas Lit Fest 2012

I thought I would blog daily while at Bocas 2012, but once I got there I didn’t want to dutifully blog and I didn’t want to take pictures of everything. I wanted to enjoy myself and I did, only tweeting and taking snapshots when I felt like it. Now I want to look back, remember, and tell you all about the amazing people and works I have encountered.

Day one of the festival started with a welcome ceremony. To commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Independence, there were four readings of classic works from around fifty years ago: the prose of V.S. Naipaul, poetry by Derek Walcott (both of them Nobel Laureates, as I’m sure you already know), a speech by Eric Williams, and satire by ‘Macaw’, the pseudonymous Trinidad Guardian columnist. The excerpt from Derek Walcott’s ‘The Star-Apple Kingdom’ concluded on a powerful image:

… a black woman, shawled like a buzzard,
climbed up the stairs and knocked at the door
of his dream, whispering in the ear of the keyhole:
‘Let me in, I’m finished with praying, I’m the Revolution.
I am the darker, the older America.’

It was beautiful … gorgeous readings expertly read … an excellent beginning. Our appetites were whetted. Here’s the one tweet I managed.

Off I went to my first selected event (there were usually three events on at a time, so we were forced to choose). Jamaican novelists Sharon Leach and Kei Miller (who is also a poet) read from their novels. Sharon’s segment was enthralling and cleverly ended on a cliffhanger – a fender-bender, a carjacking, and a gun to someone’s head. Kei read from a work in progress which fascinated me. I recognised the same voice as in Redemption in Indigo: the personified omniscient narrator. He told of tragic events with a comic twist. We laughed at a man proud to be stricken with an STD in his old age, laughed at his instinctive horror when he was told he could expect to live another twenty years or more, laughed as he died of heart failure shortly afterwards in his sleep, in a wet dream. You had to be there. I’m sorry I’ll have to wait a while for this to be completed and published.

My tweets and twitpics of the event are herehere and here.

Here’s one of Kei’s poems featured in the UK Guardian and an article in the Jamaica Observer about an award for Sharon last year.

My own reading took place in the afternoon. I was sharing a timeslot with Erna Brodber. Erna Brodber. She is an elder for almost all aspects of my career, as a writer, a sociologist, folklorist and pattern-maker. She has received awards and honours for her fiction, her research and her community work. I felt awed. She read from her most recently published novel The Rainmaker’s Mistake and captivated all who listened.

I invite you to look here for the view from the official Bocas 2012 blogger Shivanee Ramlochan. There’s also my post-session tweet.

If you want to know more about Bocas than what I was able to take in, check out the hashtag #bocas2012 and the official blog.

I’ve turned off comments on this blog due to unrelenting spam, but if you were at Bocas and have a tweet, article or site that would add to the Day One overview, do message me on Twitter or Facebook and I’ll edit it into this post.

Tomorrow I’ll give you a glimpse of my second day at the Bocas Lit Fest!

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Bocas Lit Fest 2012

Do follow my twitter carefully for the next few days (check the sidebar or go straight to @Karen_Lord). I’m in Trinidad for the Bocas Lit Fest having a marvellous time, and it’s far easier to update on the iPad with Twitter (snatching wifi wherever I can find it). I’ve already heard from two incredible Jamaican writers, Sharon Leach and Kei Miller. My own reading is scheduled for later this afternoon, and I’m sharing a slot with the legendary Erna Brodber, Jamaican writer and winner of the 1989 Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for the Caribbean/Canada region.