Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 5th 2014 Contents Word that Beirut-born Amal Ala-
muddin has stolen the heart of George
Clooney has caused a frenzy in
Lebanon, where citizens are more
used to bad news.
In Baakline, the leafy home district
of Alamuddin s father in the Lebanese
mountains, Ramzi Sabbagh could
hardly contain his enthusiasm.
"She has made Lebanon and Baak-
line proud, given that she is originally
from here," he said.
Despite the excitement, few of
Baakline s residents actually know
Alamuddin, 36, whose family fled for
Britain during Lebanon s 1975-1990
Alamuddin, who was just three at
the time, now holds British citizen-
ship and is a lawyer specialising in in-
ternational law and human rights.
Soon after People magazine broke
the news of her engagement to Holly-
wood s most coveted bachelor,
Lebanese Internet users began ex-
pressing their delight. (AP)
The dust has settled on the NGC Bocas
Lit Fest 2014.
T&T s literati have retreated from the
National Library back to their bookish
enclaves to listen to Bocas Radio webcasts,
some of them suffering from what is known
as "Bocas tabanca."
The dust is collecting on old copies of
paperback books which had been dusted
down and nostalgically perused.
Yet there is no fear in this handful of dust.
The Caribbean literary world has again been
treated to five days of fearless writing and
fearless reading. Shiny new novels have been
printed, signed and sold. Poetry has been
performed, prizes dispensed, workshops
workshopped, films screened.
Schoolchildren have come into close con-
tact with the literary genre. A host of authors
have flown back home, their appetite for
T&T sated for another year, among them
Linton Kwesi Johnson, Caryl Phillips and
Lorna Goodison, to name a few.
The T&T Guardian spoke to four people
intimately involved in the 2014 festival to
get their inside take on how it unfolded.
Programme director of the NGC Bocas
this year s
had nine poets
plus two sur-
prise guests to
60th birth year of the
late Mikey Smith. It s incredible that we had
Linton Kwesi Johnson, Lorna Goodison,
Mervyn Morris, Kwame Dawes, Anthony
Joseph, Vahni Capildeo, and Kei Miller
together on one stage, plus some extremely
talented newer voices. It felt historic. When
Linton read Mikey Smith s iconic poem Mi
Cyaan Believe It, I don t think anyone with
a historical sense of Caribbean poetry can
have been unmoved.
I felt a quieter version of the same emotion
the following morning, when a small group
of Guyanese writers paid tribute to the poet
and editor AJ Seymour, one of the people
who gave West Indian literature a sense of
its own worth in the 1940s and 50s.
The event I enjoyed most was the Sun-
day-afternoon discussion on Shakespeare,
a raucous, insightful conversation on Shake-
speare s relevance to the Caribbean 450 years
after his birth.
And one element that excites me every
year is the space we make for new, emerging
What feedback have you got?
What the writers enjoy most is the infor-
mality and geniality of the festival, and the
chance to meet old friends and admired
peers. Our audience likes the accessibility
of the writers. It s really easy at Bocas to run
into a favourite author, have a conversation,
pose for a photo.
Do you see the same faces attending
each year or were there newbies?
It s encouraging to see repeat visitors as
well as new faces. It s a continuing effort to
bring in new audiences and convince people
who don t think of themselves as "literary."
Historically, books and literature have been
seen as the province of a cultural elite. That
shouldn t be so, and we re always trying to
imagine new ways to break that preconcep-
We ve begun staging Bocas events year-
round in South, Central and in Tobago. It s
also fascinating to see youthfulness of the
crowds that come to the Verses Bocas Poetry
Slam. Literally hundreds had to be turned
away from the finals because they could not
physically fit in the venue.
Ayanna Gillian Lloyd
Emerging fiction writer
The Who s Next showcase was my second
public reading. The first was at UWI s Cam-
pus Lit Fest. Both were prompted by the St
James Writer s Room led by Monique Roffey
as part of her programme to develop new
writers. I was thrilled when Bocas asked me
to be part of the showcase. It s a well organ-
ised, carefully thought out event, I left feeling
energised and near euphoric.
I found all the writers really approachable
and willing to share advice with new writers.
Some of my personal highlights were meeting
Linton Kwesi Johnson, Lorna Goodison and
Kei Miller. Because Bocas is so small and
intimate there s no huge divide between
established authors and new writers. I ve
made good friends at Bocas who have become
mentors. The best advice was from LKJ:
don t stop!
• Twitter: @GuardianTT • Web: guardian.co.tt
Bocas feeds pride in Caribbean Lit
Nobel literature laureate Derek Walcott, centre, is surrounded by other Caribbean writers in this picture from last week's 2014 NGC Bocas Lit
Fest. At right is Walcott's daughter Dr Elizabeth Walcott-Hackshaw, who launched her first novel, Mrs B, at the festival on its final day last
Sunday. From left are winners of the 2014 OCM Bocas Prize Lorna Goodison (poetry), overall winner Robert Antoni (fiction) and Dr Kei Miller
(non-fiction). PHOTO: KRISTIAN DE SILVA
Lebanon in frenzy over Clooney engagement
Continued on Page B2
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