THE tenth annual literary festival, the NGC Bocas Lit Fest, kicks off on September 18, tackling head-on the current uncertainties and the prospects for the future.
That, according to the festival's organisers, includes the covid19 pandemic to Black Lives Matter protests. "From natural disasters exacerbated by climate change to bitterly-contested elections, 2020 has been a year of upheavals and surprises, leaving many people wondering what the future holds for TT, the whole Caribbean region, and the rest of the world," a media release said.
The 2020 lit fest, the first-ever entirely virtual edition of TT’s national literature festival, runs from September 18-20 and has dubbed the opening day Future Friday. It’s a special lineup of events featuring some of the Caribbean’s best known, speculative fiction writers who imagine possible futures.
For the first time, too, as a birthday gift to lit fest fans, a special e-book including writing from all the participating authors, will be available for free download from the festival website, bocaslitfest.com, for a week after the festival, the release said.
"With many readers remarking that the year 2020 has unfurled like a sci-fi move, there’s no more relevant time to explore what speculative and science fiction – one of the most popular literary genres – can teach us, since it considers questions such as how might human society, technology, and ethics evolve?" the release said. "How might our interventions in nature change the world we live in, or compel us to explore and settle new worlds? How might today’s anxieties become tomorrow’s opportunities – or perils?"
Future Friday opens with a special virtual edition of the festival’s signature Stand and Deliver open-mic event, in which emerging TT speculative fiction writers will share their work in progress via pre-recorded video clips, hosted by DJ and TV host Jayron Remy.
It will be followed by Circa 2120, a session in which Trinidadian writers Brandon O’Brien, Shivanee Ramlochan and Hadassah K Williams will read stories and poems that speculate on what the Caribbean might look like a century from now, or even further into the future.
Back to the Future closes the day and brings together celebrated writers Karen Lord, Tobias S Buckell, Nalo Hopkinson, and Malka Older for wide-ranging discussion on the insights of speculative fiction into issues such as social justice, racial equality, colonial reparations, and climate change.
The Future Friday programme is guest-curated by Karen Lord, the acclaimed Barbadian writer, a popular guest at past editions of the NGC Bocas Lit Fest, and organised in partnership with the newly-established Caribbean Futures Institute. According to co-founder Tobias S Buckell, “the Caribbean Futures Institute’s mission is to study the specific challenges the region faces by tapping the brainpower of Caribbean futurists to imagine and report on alternatives to our present, as well as write fiction to illustrate what could be. Why? Because if the Caribbean doesn’t imagine its own futures, others will do it for us.”
All festival events are free and accessible to all, with no tickets or registration. The programme will be streamed live at bocaslitfest.com, facebook.com/bocaslitfest, and youtube.com/bocaslitfest.
Future Friday, September 18
4.30-5.30 pm: Stand and Deliver
6-7 pm: Circa 2120, readings by Brandon O’Brien, Shivanee Ramlochan and Hadassah K Williams
7.30-8.30 pm: Back to the Future, with Karen Lord, Tobias S Buckell, Nalo Hopkinson, and Malka Older. To be followed by a live Q&A session between readers and writers