THIS WEDNESDAY, the NGC Bocas Lit Fest will debut a brand new online conversation series aimed at introducing Caribbean writers to industry professionals overseas. Titled LIT’S BE REAL, the series—which takes the form of frank, solution-oriented discussions with editors, educators, agents, and more—will be hosted by Amanda Choo Quan, the winner of the 2020 Johnson and Amoy Achong Caribbean Writers Prize.
“It’s a real honour to take the global literary industry to task in a way that will be honest, real, and also entertaining,” Choo Quan enthuses. “We aim to place Caribbean writers in conversation with people they would not normally have access to—international allies already dedicated to championing marginalised voices.” She adds, “I’ve spoken to so many Caribbean writers who believe that diluting our work is the key to success. But it is absolutely not true. And in any case, ‘success’ has so many pathways. Publishing with a Big 5 press is one of them—but there is a wider world outside of that.”
LIT’S BE REAL’s first episode will screen this Wednesday from 6-7 p.m., live on the NGC Bocas Lit Fest’s Facebook page—www.facebook.com/bocaslitfest. Titled Building A Lit Community Across Borders, it will feature a discussion with Chiwan Choi, an editor and publisher at Writ Large Press, an independent literary press based in Los Angeles, California, USA, and partner at the Accomplices, a collective which includes the noted press Civil Coping Mechanisms and Entropy magazine. The conversation will also feature Shivanee Ramlochan, critically acclaimed poet, arts reporter, and book blogger—no stranger to community-building in Trinidad and Tobago.
The four-part series will run every other Wednesday (November 4 and 18; December 2 and 16), aiming to follow the arc of a writer’s career. Topics covered will include MFA and academic programmes, pitching and submitting articles to publications, and the troubling question of international audiences misunderstanding a Caribbean writer’s “voice”.
Bocas Lit Fest founder and director Marina Salandy-Brown is thrilled to partner with the prize-winning writer. She says, “Bringing new writers into contact with industry professionals is such an important part of the work we do. In fact, this partnership is a virtual version of our heavily subscribed Writers First collaboration with Nalis that usually kicks off our annual festival programme.
“Covid-19 has caused writers to struggle everywhere, but it’s also a time in which the world is connecting like never before,” Choo Quan concludes. “It’s a time, more than most, for our writing to get strategic.”