Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Bocas Lit Festival 2015

So, you know that the entire month of April I was purposefully reading and planning for the Bocas Lit Fest. I read five novels by authors who would be in attendance.

As soon as I landed in Trinidad, I had my driver take me straight to the lit fest in order to see Shani Mootoo, the author of Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab which is one of the books that I read in preparation for the festival.

Shani Mootoo
Shani Mootoo

It was so thrilling to hear Shani reading from her book and to be familiar with the reading.

Someone asked her why did she name the book Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab, and she stated something like isn’t that the way life happens; it does not move forward in a straight line? I just loved that answer. One of the many reasons why I love her book is because it is true to life.

Well, you know that I normally read digitally, but I just happened to read Shani’s novel in book form, and I brought it with me so that she could sign it.....

Perfect beginning to the Lit Fest!

Later that same day, I was waiting in the lobby of the hotel to go out for dinner, and guess who walked through the door?

Fred A’guiar, author of Children of Paradise.

Fred and Me

Right there in the lobby, Fred was gracious enough to answer questions and talk about his book. I even asked if he would come to work with my students since he teaches not far away at Virginia Tech. He informed me that he would be moving to teach at UCLA but would more than happy to Skype with my students and me. (Heavy Favor!)

What warmed my heart is that Fred did not seem to mind answering questions, and he even allowed me to take several pictures until I got one that we both liked.

I ran into Fred quite often over the course of my stay in Trinidad, and every single time he was pleasant and nice.

On his assigned day, he read from his book, answered questions, and signed books with complete grace.

What a joy when you meet someone whom you respect, and they don’t seem to take the admiration for granted!

Fred on the panel!

Ok, Do you remember me telling you in a previous post that I was staying in the host hotel for the authors?

Yes, I was staying in the hotel with the authors, and on the second day I got up early to have breakfast and guess who was also having breakfast: Karen Lord, author of The Galaxy Game along with other speculative writers and Tiphanie Yanique, author of Land of Love and Drowning? The Galaxy Game and Land of Love and Drowning are also two books that I read in preparation for the lit fest.

Of course, I didn't want to be pushy, but the authors delighted me by allowing me to take pictures some pictures.

Authors: Karen Lord, Nalo Hopkinson, Tobias S. Buckell, and Tiphanie Yanique

TiphanieYanique and me


After breakfast, I saw Karen in the lobby, and she encouraged me to ask questions about her book.

I asked Karen how did she take her sci-fi ideas and write them in a manner that was accessible to her readers, and where did she get the ideas for her books?

Karen explained that she is a social economic researcher, and she gets a lot of practice taking complicated ideas and making them plain. She also went on to explain that she gets the ideas for her books from the things that are going on in the world....

I just loved Karen’s intense, warm personality.

Brave New World Panel discussion which included Karen Lord!

Finally, it was time to hear Tiphanie read from Land of Love and Drowning.  However, I was running late after attending another session, and I only got to hear Tiphanie answer questions.

Author Naomi Jackson, Moderator Stephen Narain,  Author Tiphanie Yanique

This session with Tiphanie was very upbeat and lively. Naomi and Tiphanie both live in Brooklyn, NY, and they had a good vibe going with each other.

Tiphanie talked about the title of her book. She was not sure if she should name the book Land of Love and Drowning, because she thought that being a woman writer and including love in the title, would cause the reader to think that her novel was just another love story. However, if you read this book, you will quickly find out that this novel is a love story and soooo much more.

Tiphanie’s personality was just as warm as her book!

Now, the last and final book that I read in preparation for the Lit Fest was A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon Jones, and he was not on schedule for the lit fest until the last day, and I would be on the way home. However, I was on a mad hunt to find Marlon Jones only to find out that he did not make it to the festival.

I was a little disappointed, but I did meet four of the five authors that I wanted to meet so, I decided to focus on the positive....

If I had to come up with a theme for this festival, it would be Community. There seemed to be a strong sense of community amongst the writers. It was apparent, through their interactions, that they were working together and supporting each other. This festival was confirmation that Community is imperative for so many different reasons.

My people, this is a literary festival that you should definitely add to your list. It was not crowded; therefore, the authors were accessible. Also, Trinidad is such a delightful place and a literary festival is a good reason to travel there. (Not that you would need a reason to travel to the lovely Trinidad)

Here are a few other highlights from the lit fest:

Author Earl Lovelace
Carolyn Cooper: columnist, broadcaster, and professor of literary
and culture studies at the UWI, Mona, Jamaica
Edward Baugh: Professor Emeritus of English, UWI, Mona
Author: Naomi Jackson

I had no preconceived thoughts about Trinidad before I got there; however, I was not expecting to fall completely in love with the land and the culture.

View from a hill
One of the hills that I climbed.
Maracas Beach
Hanging with the locals
Enjoying the view with Shannon from Reading Has Purpose
With our driver, Prince, who escorted us on our trip to the beach.
Had to get a picture of the bike lane sign. Trinidad has bike lanes.

If you made it to the end of this long post, know that I ‘preciate you, and I am happy that you came along for the journey!

In the meantime, I will be frantically searching for another Literary Festival.....

“Seize the Day."


ArchivedProfile said...

This must be the best post ever! I can't even tell you how glad I am that you were able to come on the trip. It was the best. You're the best! Looking forward to more literary memories...

Jacqueline said...

Thanks Shannon... Happy that you told me about this great festival in a great location.

Darkowaa said...

Lovely pictures! Looked like an amazing experience :). I'm sooo pumped for Naomi Jackson's debut.

Jacqueline said...

Completely amazing experience.... I haven’t read anything by Naomi yet, but I can’t wait to read her writings.

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