FOR THE first time since its inception nine years ago, Trinidadian authors topped all three categories of the NGC Bocas Lit Fest.
Kevin Adonis Browne took home the most coveted prize, the 2019 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, for his book High Mas and the US$10,000 cheque that goes with the award.
Browne went up against Danielle Boodoo-Fortune, winner of the poetry award with her book Doe Songs, and Dionne Brand, winner of the fiction award with her book Theory. Both Boodoo-Fortune and Brand received US$3,000. The authors were presented with their awards during the award ceremony at the Old Fire Station Port of Spain on Saturday night. Brand, who is based in Canada, was absent.
Speaking after the event, Browne who is a lecturer at the University of the West Indies’s Department of Language, Literature and Communication studies, said he was elated to receive such an honour, adding that “it feels wonderful to be validated.”
This is his second book. The first was Tropic Tendencies: Rhetoric, Popular Culture, and the Anglophone Caribbean. For his prize-winning book High Mas, he wanted to share the value of Caribbean culture. “I wanted to create work that is Caribbean and to have that viewed and reviewed and recognised for its Caribbeanness.”
High Mas features four series of photographs with accompanying essays which focus on different aspects of Carnival. Blue devils, moko jumbies, the la diablesse (portrayed by Tracey Sankar-Charleau in 2015) and a political activist group known as Jouvay Ayiti are featured in the series.
The ceremony also featured a tribute to prolific novelist, journalist, playwright and short-story writer Earl Lovelace. Excerpts from his book The Dragon Can’t Dance, which is 40 years old, were brought to life as performers re-enacted some of the scenes.
A new award, the Johnson & Amoy Achong Caribbean Writers Prize, went to Jamaican Sharma Taylor. The award, which is for emerging writers, features a cash award of US $3,000, a year’s mentoring from an established writer, a one-week creative writing course in the UK and a further three-day stay so that the writer can network with editors and publishers.