The open mic on Monday at the Bocas Lit Fest's tent at Carifesta in the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain, was booming with stories from emerging writers with tales of resilience, motivation and sorrow.
However, authors and audience members had to tolerate a sweltering heat which could not be soothed by the four industrial fans in the tents. One author left the tent as he was starting to feel sick.
In spite of the heat, writers gathered to read their work. October will be a year since actress Paula Hamilton-Smith gave birth to a stillborn baby boy.
Hamilton-Smith was furious with God, herself, people who asked insensitive questions and with life itself. She took all that anger and channelled it into a book called Diary of a Grieving Mother.
"The more time passes the more I realise I am not okay," she read for the audience.
"An article I read today said there are triggers that set you off at random. That's what's happening, and that's what I am afraid of. When I encounter a trigger – a recent one is with a heartbeat – there are a few things that can happen, and I just feel that burning between my nose and eyes to not cry. Or tears may slowly run down my face."
Hamilton-Smith wrote the book as a form of catharsis and to reach out to mothers who are going through similar experiences. She has a contract with Trinity Hills Publishing and her book will launch on the
first anniversary of her child's death.
Joy Dillon read her short story How to Write About the Caribbean, a pastiche of Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina's book How to Write about Africa.
"The Caribbean is still on the fringes of civilisation as people still live on thatched-roof
houses, far removed from society. Walk many miles to access the basic amenities, use outhouses, collect water by standpipes, go to bed by candlelight and eat bush meat. Don't get lost in specific descriptions. The Caribbean is not one island," Dillon read.
Motivational speakers and entrepreneurs took the stage as well.
Cherise Castle is a frequent publisher on Amazon. She found there was a lot of bureaucracy when starting a business. She said there was a lot of information that is not readily available and government offices do not explain information properly. So she wrote a book called A Timely Entrepreneur, a handbook
full of tips to start a business.
Her reading was about how to sell. She advised the audience on choosing a target market and focusing on those people to buy a product.
Caron Greaves said she was a resilient woman. She told the audience about her struggles with employers who would devalue her work and stress her out. Turning her stress into success, she wrote the Resilient Woman Reflecting on the Past to Empower the Future.