Considered one of the leading Caribbean writers of his generation, Anthony Joseph, a Trinidad and Tobago-born author based in the UK, is equally celebrated for his poetry and music as for his fiction.
His work is featured in a new online project produced by UK literary organisation Renaissance One, Speaking Volumes and hosted by the NGC Bocas Lit Fest. The production brings his novel The Frequency of Magic to life online through musical performance, with a series of 100 daily podcast episodes which premiered on October 25.
The audio series is the latest collaboration between Speaking Volumes – a London-based live literature organisation specialising in getting underrepresented voices heard, reaching diverse audiences, and finding exciting ways to present the work of writers – and the NGC Bocas Lit Fest.
Bocas, in a release, praised the production as innovative and ambitious.
The project was funded by Arts Council England and features vocals by the author, whose latest book, Sonnets for Albert, has been shortlisted for both the Forward Prize and the TS Eliot Prize, the two most prestigious British awards for poetry.
Joseph was chosen by Renaissance One and Arts Council England as one of 50 black and Asian writers to have contributed greatly to contemporary British literature in 2004.
His dramatised readings are accompanied by musicians Denys Baptiste, Andrew John, Thibaut Remy, Colin Webster, Jason Yarde, and Rod Youngs.
Bocas said, "The Frequency of Magic is simultaneously a portrait of Trinidad and a portrait of creative obsession, shot through with musical rhythms and cadences. The author has recorded the entire novel in 100 audio chapters, accompanied by his band, bringing this inventive text alive for the ear."
Joseph said, “In the summer of 2021, I went into Love Electric Studios in London with my regular band – musicians I’ve worked with for over a decade. For five days, we improvised and spontaneously created soundscapes and grooves which I read over.
"At the beginning of the week, the task of recording 100 chapters of 1,000 words each seemed daunting, especially when each chapter lasted around ten minutes! But we found our flow and made it to the end around 5 pm on Friday evening.”
He said the improvisational but naturally accurate elements of the music, which moves from ambient textures to free jazz, echo both the free-spirited and surrealist modes through which he wrote and edited the text. It was also the approach guiding the novel’s narrative form, in which everything occurs simultaneously.
"The spaces where these two elements align is truly the frequency of magic.”
The series is being released from 25 October, one episode each day, and continues for 100 days at www.bocaslitfest.com/the-frequency-of-magic.
Listeners can listen daily or binge-listen weekly to catch up in batches on the Bocas Lit Fest website.