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TRINIDAD EXPRESS – St Lucian poet Vladimir Lucien has won the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature (overall) at this year’s Bocas LitFest, which ended yesterday.
Lucien was also presented with the OCM (One Caribbean Media) Award for Poetry at the ceremony that took place on Saturday at the Old Fire Station, Port of Spain.
Lucien, who studied Literature and Theatre Arts at the St Augustine Campus of The UWI, won the trophy and lucrative US$60,000 prize with his collection titled, Sounding Ground. The poet, who cited Derek Walcot as among his major influences, said winning the OCM Bocas Prize means a lot to him and that he has been supported by the Caribbean community tremendously since embarking on his career as a poet/writer.
In the category for Caribbean Literature—Fiction, Jamaican writer Marlon James took the honours with his work, A Brief History of Seven Killings.
The quite intense novel is centred on the assassination attempt on Bob Marley and looks at the rampant political violence in Jamaica during the 1970s and how the CIA tied in to everything that was taking place on the island during that time.
The prize for Caribbean Literature—Non-Fiction category too was claimed by a Jamaican, Olive Senior, who won with her book, Dying to Better Themselves—West Indians and the Building of the Panama Canal.
Through a series of interviews and research, Senior recounts the experiences of the workers from various islands of the region as they went to work on the construction of the Panama Canal in the early 1900s.
In his address on behalf of OCM CEO Dawn Thomas, OCM. group executive, Corporate Services, Gregory Camejo said OCM remains committed to supporting the Bocas Lit- Fest, which is here to stay. He said the OCM Award for Caribbean Literature is aligned and supportive of the OCM Group’s committement to the celebration and recognition of literary talent from the region. Camejo also announced the introduction of two additional monetary awards to the OCM Bocas prize structure from this year.
“In addition to the traditional OCM prize of US$10,000 the OCM Group has once again demonstrated it is committed to the recognition of Caribbean literary talent by introducing two additional monetary awards of US$3,000 each for the other two finalists to ensure the winners of all three categories are rewarded,” Camejo said.
Another award presented on the evening was the Hollick Arvon Caribbean Writers Prize, which was presented to writer/artist, Danielle Boodoo-Fortune. Her work was declared the winning submission from a field of 53 valid entries sent in by mainly women writers. Boodoo-Fortune receives US$15,000.
This was the final year of the three-year period that the Hollick Family Charitable Trust and the literary charitable trust Arvon sponsored this award. Bocas LitFest founder Marina Salandy-Brown and her production team are hoping there will be either a renewal of the sponsorship or that another organisation will step forward and adopt the award, which provides an important platform for emerging writers.
OCM and the Bocas LitFest also celebrated the 85th birthday of Nobel Laureate, Derek Walcott who attended the function with members of his family and close friends. In his honour were several performances including a rendition of poems from Walcott’s, White Egrets that were set to music by Dominique Le Gendre and performed by Tahirah Osborne accompanied on piano by Enrique Ali.
Ali also accompanied Wendell Manwarren in his performance of, “Juan’s Farewell” from Walcott’s, Joker of Seville, a role Manwarren portrayed some 21 years ago. Roger Roberts too performed, singing, “La Divina Pastora”. There was also a reading of Makak’s opening speech in Dream on Monkey Mountain by Nigel Scott and Edward Baugh read Walcott’s poem, “Love After Love.”