Survival Kit #1


First thing in the morning
An excerpt from the new novel The Mermaid of Black Conch, by Monique Roffey
Courtesy Peepal Tree Press
April 1976: St Constance, a tiny Caribbean village on the island of Black Conch, at the start of the rainy season. A fisherman sings to himself in his pirogue, waiting for a catch — but attracts a sea-dweller he doesn’t expect… Enjoy the opening chapter of the latest novel by the winner of the 2013 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature.
Now available for order

The Jaguar’s Daughter
A film-poem by Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné and Puleng Lange Stuart
Originally commissioned for the international Moving Pictures and Borders project in 2018, this poem by the winner of the 2019 OCM Bocas Prize for Poetry was brought to life by an emerging South African filmmaker, creating a transatlantic dialogue in words and images.
Supported by the British Council in partnership with the National Centre for Writing and the International Literature Showcase

Watercolours by Jackie Hinkson
A portfolio of images by the official artist for the NGC Bocas Lit Fest 2020 commemorative poster — capturing ordinary everyday moments that remind us of the “normal” to which we long to return.

“Listen Up!” and “Kiss and Quarrel in Whispers”
Two poems from The Errors of the Rendering, a new book of poems by Funso Aiyejina
Courtesy Peepal Tree Press
The latest book by the NGC Bocas Lit Fest’s own deputy festival director is an innovative meditation on life’s journey, drawing on Yoruba culture and wisdom to reflect on problems both ageless and contemporary.
Now available for order

We Bad
Music by Freetown Collective
In this track released for Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival 2020 season, Freetown Collective — favorite performers from festivals past — offer an anthem of resistance and resilience in the face of adversity, powered by art and community.
Learn more about Freetown Collective at

Short fiction by Barbara Jenkins, from the anthology Thicker Than Water
Published in 2018, Thicker Than Water collects fiction, poems, and essays by nineteen writers, all finalists for the Hollick Arvon Caribbean Writers Prize, administered by the Bocas Lit Fest from 2013 to 2015. This piece by inaugural Hollick Arvon prizewinner Barbara Jenkins is an excerpt from her debut novel De Rightest Place, completed with the support of the prize.
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“Invading Us Would Be a Waste of Time”
A poem by Thaís Espaillat, from the forthcoming anthology The Sea Needs No Ornament/El Mar No Necesita Ornamento, edited and translated by Loretta Collins Klobah and Maria Grau Perejoan
Courtesy Peepal Tree Press
The Sea Needs No Ornament is the first bilingual anthology of contemporary poetry by women writers of the English- and Spanish-speaking Caribbean and its diasporas to be curated in more than two decades. Thirty-three poets are assembled here, most of whom have not previously been widely translated. The anthology will be released in June 2020.
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A photography portfolio by Rodell Warner
For the images in this series, made in 2009 in downtown Port of Spain, artist Rodell Warner — also the official photographer for the 2012 NGC Bocas Lit Fest — asked random passersby to stand facing each other, as close as they felt comfortable. As much as a portrait series, it was a social experiment. At a time of growing concern about crime and violence, could strangers make a real connection through the barriers of personal anxiety? Eleven years later, when the COVID-19 outbreak requires strict social distancing, the images have a new resonance, reminding us of the value of community and intimacy.

“Walk #3”
A new poem by Vahni Capildeo — winner of the 2016 Forward Prize with the book Measures of Expatriation, and longlisted for the 2020 OCM Bocas Prize with Skin Can Hold.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Music by Sharda Patasar, Tom Donald, and Mark Buckingham
Sitarist Sharda Patasar — another NGC Bocas Lit Fest favourite — collaborates with UK-based musicians Tom Donald on piano and Mark Buckingham on clarinet to create an entirely improved “soundscape” that soothes the spirit.

“A somnolence as sweet as malaria”
A poem by Derek Walcott
Finally, we end our first Survival Kit with an excerpt from a true contemporary classic: a poem by the beloved Nobel laureate and winner of the inaugural OCM Bocas Prize in 2011. First published in The Caribbean Review of Books and later in The Prodigal.

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