Bocas Lit Fest’s Season of Independencea literary, performance showcase

Lisa Allen-Agostini
Lisa Allen-Agostini

A Season of Independence is an online programme of literary and performance events hosted by the NGC Bocas Lit Fest to commemorate TT’s 60th anniversary of independence.

This month-long programme will run from Independence Day to Republic Day – August 31 to September 24 and brings together newly commissioned writings by TT authors reflecting on the country’s past and future, and discussions and readings centred on recent books about the meaning of belonging and citizenship.

A musical performance and a curated playlist of video content from the Bocas archives will complete the programme.

Harmony Farrell 

Details are online at, and all events can be viewed on demand at the NGC Bocas Lit Fest YouTube and Facebook pages.

From Independence Day, viewers can explore and enjoy curated videos covering TT’s heritage and history via National Interests, a YouTube playlist. Drawing on the festival’s archives, the offerings include discussions with contemporary authors, celebrations of classic books and vibrant panel discussions on historical topics – a chance to revisit highlights of the Lit Fest over the past five years.

New on-demand online programming will premiere on four consecutive Thursdays through September on the YouTube and Facebook pages. Events include a September 1 discussion of how the national story gets written, and by whom, featuring eminent historians Bridget Brereton and Brinsley Samaroo; and a September 22 conversation with Barbara Jenkins and Ira Mathur, authors of new memoirs which tackle thorny issues of belonging and “home.”

Brinsley Samaroo 

The season also focuses on “lost voices” from TT’s past, with newly commissioned prose and poetry by six contemporary authors focusing on historical characters whose personal perspectives were unrecorded in their times. Figures such as Banwari Man/Woman – the first known inhabitant of Trinidad, whose remains are dated to BCE 3400 – the elusive Betty Stiven, buried under Tobago’s Mystery Tombstone, and Bhuruth Suroop, the first indentured immigrant to disembark from the Fatel Razack in 1845, will be brought back to life, through a combination of historical research and literary imagination. The segments will air on September 8 and 15.

TT’s upcoming generation will add their perspectives as well, through the series – Letters to the future by writers in their 20s, addressed to TT in the year 2062 – a virtual time capsule recording the concerns and hopes of today’s youth, available from September 15.

And a popular fixture will also return: the Extempo Debate, bringing together two expert calypsonians for a witty, incisive discussion of topical issues through song. Black Sage and Lady Syntax will tackle The Price of Progress, using King Austin’s 1979 kaiso classic Progress as a prompt. The Extempo Debate will be available on demand from September 8.


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