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Empowering new writers with prizes

Sunday, July 15, 2018
Shivanee Ramlochan

Literary prizes are proven investments with guaranteed returns, says a release from the Bocas Lit Fest. And a geographically small yet complex place like the Caribbean requires continuous investment to help draw out emerging literary talent.

One such venture, according to the Bocas release, was the Hollick Arvon Caribbean Writers Prize, which ran over the period 2013-2015. "Three years later, we have Thicker than Water—a new anthology of Caribbean writing showcasing new work by prize finalists, including Trinidadian winners Barbara Jenkins (fiction, 2013) and Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné (poetry, 2015)." Both writers also launched their books that resulted from the Hollick Arvon Prize at the 2018 NGC Bocas Lit Fest.

"A publication of Peekash Press (Bocas' very own publishing company), the anthology features the best of a new generation of Caribbean writers from seven countries, and celebrates the unique legacy of the first award for emerging Caribbean authors with truly regional scope.

"Following its Caribbean and international launch at the 2018 NGC Bocas Lit Fest, the anthology's UK launch, hosted by Arvon (prize co-administrator and UK literary foundation), will take place on Thursday at the Free Word Centre in London. Five distinguished British-Caribbean writers: Colin Grant, Anthony Joseph, Karen McCarthy Woolf, Courttia Newland and Kerry Young will bring to life the work of Richard Georges, Barbara Jenkins, Diana McCaulay, Shivanee N Ramlochan and Hazel Simmons McDonald."

The event will be livestreamed via the Bocas Lit Fest facebook page from 6:30pm (UK time).

There is also a new prize dedicated to nurturing new Caribbean voices, The Johnson and Amoy Achong Caribbean Writers Prize, now open for submissions.

Managed by The Bocas Lit Fest and Arvon, this Prize replaces the Hollick Arvon Caribbean Writers Prize. It is an annual award, which allows an emerging Caribbean writer living and working in the Anglophone Caribbean to devote time to advancing or finishing a literary work, with support from an established writer as mentor. The prize is offered across three literary genres - fiction in 2019, non-fiction in 2020 and poetry in 2021.

The prize is named after Johnson and Amoy Achong and commemorates their lives as loyal and hard-working citizens of this country whose children have continued to contribute to the building of T&T.

Bocas Lit Fest founder and director Marina Salandy-Brown says “We must not underestimate the value of these prizes in honing talent and in growing the pool of Caribbean writers. We can safely say the returns on literary arts investments are evident as they are enduring. And we're excited to see what this new prize yields for Caribbean writing over the next few years.”

The first winner of the Johnson and Amoy Achong Caribbean Writers Prize will be announced in 2019.

Submissions close September 30, 2018. For more information and prize guidelines, see

About Thicker than Water

Difficult parents and lost children, unfaithful spouses and spectral lovers, mysterious ancestors and fierce bloodlines - the stories, poems, and memoirs in this new anthology tackle everything that's most complicated and thrilling about family and history in the Caribbean. Collecting new writing by finalists for the Hollick Arvon Caribbean Writers Prize, a groundbreaking award administered by the Bocas Lit Fest, Thicker Than Water shows us how a new generation of Caribbean authors address perennial questions of love, betrayal, and memory in small places where personal and collective histories are often troublingly intertwined.

About the Johson and Amoy Achong Caribbean Writers Prize

The Prize consists of a cash award of $20,000 (TT) (or the equivalent in USD), a year's mentoring by an established writer, travel to the United Kingdom to attend a one-week intensive Arvon creative writing course at one of Arvon's internationally renowned writing houses, and three days in London to network with editors and publishers, hosted by Arvon, in association with the Free Word Centre and a leading London literary agency.


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