Narcissus (Broken Sleep Books), the fourth comprehensive collection of poems by Trinidadian Andre Bagoo, draws on ancient Greek myth – specifically, the story of the doomed beautiful youth who become obsessed with their own image – to explore homosexuality and violence, and the entanglements between body and mind, human and non-human. As concerned with the natural world as they are with art and music, these poems experiment with form, register and voice, often hovering somewhere between desire and memory, fulfillment and disappointment.
Tropic Death (Simi Press), the famous collection of short stories by Guyanese Eric Walrond, has been reissued almost a century after its original publication in 1926. Born in Georgetown in 1898, Walrond emigrated to New York at the age of 19 years, and quickly entered the literary and intellectual circles of the Harlem Renaissance. Set in the Caribbean and Central America during the construction of the Panama Canal, these stories depict the lives of working-class men and women at the turn of the century. The cruelty and violence of colonial life and nature’s obliviousness to human suffering are unmistakable in these powerful works of short fiction.
Alexander Bedward, the Prophet of August Town: Race, Religion and Colonialism (University of the West Indies Press), by historian Dave St Aubyn Gosse, is a study of a historical figure once considered a joke, now recognized as a important black nationalist thinker. Jamaican revivalist preacher Alexander Bedward, born in 1848, has won an island-wide following for his teachings defying racist colonial laws and conventions. He spent the last decade of his life in a mental asylum, but Gosse argues that the portrayal of Bedward as a comedic eccentric was part of a deliberate colonial policy to suppress his influence and ideas about black self-sufficiency, which make him an important precursor to Marcus Garvey.
Black Man Listen: The Life of JR Ralph Casimir (Papillote Press), by Kathy Casimir MacLean, is a biography of Dominica’s leading Pan-African activist, written by his granddaughter. Born in 1898 and enjoying a life expectancy of nearly a century, Casimir was a poet, journalist, editor and teacher, as well as general secretary of the Dominican branch of Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association. A regular contributor to the UNIA Negro World newspaper, Casimir was also a town councilor for Roseau and played a key role in the early efforts for Caribbean self-government and regional unity.
Awards and prizes
The 2022 NGC Bocas Youth Writer Award is open for applications, with an October 15 deadline. The award celebrates Trinidad and Tobago writers under the age of 25 in all genres, including poetry, playwriting, fiction, creative non-fiction, journalism, screenwriting, creative spoken, blog writing and song lyrics. Judges consider both the quality of the contestants’ writing and its public and social impact. The winner will receive a cash prize of $5,000. For more information and the online nomination form, visit www.bocaslitfest.com/youth/writeraward.
The CMO Bocas Prize 2023 also remains open for nominations. Sponsored by One Caribbean Media and awarded annually since 2011, the Cross-Genre Prize – for books of poetry, fiction and literary non-fiction – is considered the most prestigious prize for writers of Caribbean birth or citizenship. . The 2023 prize is open to books published in the 2022 calendar year. The overall winner is selected from three winners in the genre categories and is presented at the annual NGC Bocas Lit Fest, the largest literary festival in the English-speaking Caribbean. For more information, including deadlines and eligibility and submission guidelines, visit www.bocaslitfest.com/awards/ocm.
The First Citizens National Poetry Slam will close its tenth anniversary by returning to the physical stage for the finale. The long-awaited in-person event will be held at the Naparima Bowl today, October 9, with a ticket price of $200. Audiences can expect powerful performances from the Slam finalists as they challenge defending champion Derron Sandy for the grand prize of $50,000 and the coveted FCNPS winner’s title. Second and third place winners will receive $20,000 and $10,000, respectively, courtesy of First Citizens.
The second annual NGC Bocas Youth Festival features a fun, free one-day event on Saturday, October 22 at the Writers Center on Alcazar Street in St Clair. Aimed at young writers, readers and creatives up to age 25, the program includes spoken word and music performances, a ‘Big Idea’ debate and informal sessions on ‘Writing My Career’ and the value of the literary arts in various creative fields. . For more information, visit www.bocaslitfest.com.
Independent bookstore Paper Based (paperbased.org) shares its best-selling Caribbean titles from the past month:
1. The Bread the Devil Kneads, by Lisa Allen-Agostini
2. Pleasantview, by Celeste Mohammed
3. When We Were Birds, by Ayanna Lloyd Banwo
4. How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House, by Cherie Jones
5. Zo and the Forest of Secrets, by Alake Pilgrim