Writers at the Bocas Lit Fest

Karen Lord Karen Lord, a Barbadian research consultant and author, is known for her multiple award-winning novels Redemption in Indigo (Frank Collymore Literary Award 2008, Bocas Prize 2011 longlist) and The Best of All Possible Worlds (Frank Collymore Literary Award 2009). Her third novel The Galaxy Game was published in 2015. Her passion comes from her natural curiosity she says, “I’m curious about how worlds, societies and identities are constructed, and that’s reflected in my fiction and my interest/occupation in socio-economic research. I began writing recreationally in my early teens back in the 1980s, and professionally (as a fiction author) in 2010.” Her novels however, are not the usual fare, instead leaning closer to science fiction in an area known as speculative fiction, which she settled on as a way of conveying deep truths about society under the cover of a parable format, similar to Animal Farm and Gulliver’s Travels. Novels she notes, can take as little as a month to create the _ rst manuscript, with the final draft coming months or sometimes, years later. With a varied CV to her name – from the role of diplomat to soldier she notes, “It looks more eclectic than it was. I followed interests and opportunity one step at a time!” This year, she is involved in a speculative fiction workshop, a panel and readings, mostly in the company of her esteemed colleagues Nalo Hopkinson, Tobias Buckell and R S A Garcia.

Mandisa Pantin Mandisa Pantin is a writer, film producer and director, and has been the script supervisor on three award winning films, Jab in Dark, 2013, Pan! Our Musical Odyssey, 2014 and Sally’s Way, 2015. She is currently working on a bio-documentary of her father, the late Raoul Pantin, writer and journalist. The latter was based on an ‘intellectual experiment’ she notes, to simply communicate again with her father. “We started to communicating really on Facebook of all places, which led to interviews and phone calls and long messages. I need to finish the work but I am glad that I reached out and he reached back,” she says of her father before his passing. Her preferred artistic expression has always been drawing and painting which is what led her into cinematography and then film-making before she delved fully into writing. “I have only ever won one official award – Best Emerging Documentary Filmmaker from Afropop/NBPC but I also unofficially got a sponsored ticket to Toronto from CaribbeanTales based on my work and won a place in the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival incubator based on another film idea that I had,” she adds. At this year’s festival, her daughter will join her in a tribute to Mandisa’s father; reading two of his poems; Journey and SeaQuest.

“Journey seemed to me to represent my world as a child and SeaQuest I felt was also important in that my father loved the sea – it is both our cradle and our grave. I can think of no other person who I would rather have up on stage with me than my only child,” she says, who was able to reconnect with her grandfather as well before his passing.

Carol Mitchell US based Carol Mitchell was born St Kitts & Nevis but spent her formative years in TT. “I began writing fiction seriously in 2007,” she explains, partially because I was searching unsuccessfully for Caribbean children’s literature for my own children. I decided to develop one of my own ideas and the Caribbean Adventure Series was born.” Since then she notes the highlights have been humbling, as she details, “I’ve read my stories for children in many parts of the world – the US, the Caribbean, and Africa as well.” Writing for children has its challenges though as she notes, “Children are a tough audience. Unlike adults they won’t clap to be polite or read a book because someone else recommended it. Especially with today’s kids you have to capture their attention from the beginning and keep it under lock and key.” But on the other side of the equation, children “are still able to completely suspend disbelief” and so as a writer, she notes “it’s a lot of fun, you can let your imagination run wild.” At this year’s festival, Carol participated in the Open Mic where she will introduce a new adult piece about sexual harassment called The Red Fire Truck and also read from one of her children’s books, SeaScapes.

Danielle Boodoo-Fortun? Danielle Boodoo-Fortun?, is a Trinidadian poet and artist. She was awarded the Charlotte and Isidor Paiewonksy Prize, The Caribbean Writer, 2009, and is the poetry winner of the 2012 Small Axe Literary competition.

This year she is shortlisted for the 2015 Hollick Arvon Caribbean Writers Prize which she describes as “an incredible honour to be in the company of the other poets on the shortlist as well as the longlist.” The effect has been motivating as she puts it, “More than anything else, I’m taking it as an affirmation that I need to keep on my path, to keep working on my writing.” Her inspiration comes from “the half-told story” – with her interest peaking around personal and collective memories, submerged family histories, generational connections and such. She believes that there is a need to increase the interest of Caribbean readers in particular, “I was a teacher at the Secondary level and realised the importance of young people seeing themselves reflected in the books they read. That way literature becomes something that lives and breathes,” she says.

Currently a full-time writer, visual artist and illustrator for the past four years, this year she is part of an anthology titled Coming Up Hot: Eight New Poets from the Caribbean published by Peekash Press. “I also will share my poetry at the launch, along with Ruel Johnson, Colin Robinson and Shivanee Ramlochan, who is also on the Hollick Arvon shortlist,” she notes.

Ayanna Gillian Lloyd Ayanna Gillian Lloyd is a fiction and life writer working on her _ rst novel and a collection of short fiction. She notes, “I have become more committed to my writing in the last two years. Since then I have been published in The Caribbean Writer and been shortlisted for Wasa_ ri’s New Writing Prize and the Smallaxe Literary Competition.” She is also an alumna of the Cropper Foundation Residential Workshop and The St James Writer’s Workshop and has been featured in the ‘Who’s Next?’ segment for emerging writers at Bocas Lit Fest and Bocas South. She’s happy to be involved with the BLF again this year, adding, “I will be hosting the Who’s Next session for a new crop of emerging writers.” Outside of her work in literary fiction, Ayanna is also a Copywriter and Creative Strategist at an advertising agency in Trinidad.

Schedules and planned activities are current up to print time on Thursday April 30, 2015. For more information, log on to www.bocaslitfest.com


"Writers at the Bocas Lit Fest"

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