Bocas Lit Fest, ‘the biggest annual literary festival in the Anglophone Caribbean,’ is almost upon us (April 28-30 at NALIS in Port-of-Spain) with the mission of supporting, promoting, developing, and bringing together writers and readers of all ages.’
At the official launch, Nicholas Laughlin, festival and programme director, revealed that this year “life writing” is a unique programme focus with half a dozen events on specific themes.
With less than two weeks to the thirteenth 2023 NGC Bocas Lit Fest, WE reproduces a feature on one of its participants from the blog ‘Repeating Islands’–news and commentary on Caribbean culture, literature, and the arts–run by Ivette Romero-Cesa, professor of Spanish and Director of Latin American and Caribbean Studies at Marist College, where she teaches Latin American literature, cultures, and cinema. Her blog states that ‘her interest in exploring her family’s diverse Caribbean and trans-Atlantic roots led her to reroute the path of her doctoral studies in French literature (at Cornell University) towards a comparative exploration of Caribbean literatures and cultures.’ Romero-Cesa’s co-blogger Lisa Paravisini-Gebert works in the fields of literature and cultural studies, specialising in the multidisciplinary, comparative study of the Caribbean.
Song for My Father
"S Brian Samuel’s Song for My Father: A West Indian Journey (Ian Randle Publishers, 2023) tells “a different narrative of the West Indian father.” Samuel will be presenting his newly published memoir this year at the Bocas Lit Fest, taking place from April 28 to 30 in PoS.
Cover Blurb: In 1942 my father, Darwin Fitzgerald (‘Gerry’) Samuel, boards a British ship and leaves his native Grenada, bound for war-torn Britain. He worked in the armaments industry, qualified as a teacher, and married Scottish nurse Nelleen Hogan. In 1950, two years after the Empire Windrush had opened the flood gates to England, our father went home with his young family: a man on the up. Pity, it wouldn’t last.
One fateful day in 1960 while living in Trinidad, my mother walked out on us without warning or nary a goodbye to her three young sons, thrusting us into the sole care of our father. To say our father was unprepared is putting it mildly: he was in a state of shock, for he had no inkling of this pending abandonment by his wife of ten years. But despite his shock, there was one thing he would never do: abandon his sons. Teacher, seeker, writer, Renaissance man, and most of all, Nomad, that was my father. Unlike most of the Windrush Generation, our journey didn’t end after we got off the ship in Liverpool–that was just the beginning. By the time I turned 18, I’d already lived in five countries: Grenada, Trinidad, Guyana, England and USA.
In 1971 came my father’s finest move: Jamaica. In one seminal year, my life was transformed: from a dumbed-down, low self-esteem immigrant kid in London into a newly confident 6th former, about to enter university. Jamaica in the 70s was the world epicentre of street cred, with its heady mixture of Marley and Manley, Reggae and Rasta–interspersed with large doses of murder and mayhem. After my father died, suddenly and shockingly, my brothers and I (who really are called Tom and Gerry) went in search of our long-lost mother, and what we found was way more than we’d bargained for.
Follow me as we go from the hills of Grenada to the arse end of London in an unforgettable West Indian journey full of dramatic twists and escapades. This is my story–my tribute to our father and to all those unsung fathers who have ‘mothered’ countless generations of Caribbean men and women."
See and hear Samuel speak in T&T
You can see and hear Brian Samuel speak of his memoir on April 30 from 11 am–12.30 pm at the AV Room at NALIS,
Hart and Abercromby streets, Port-of-Spain, alongside Simone Dalton (winner of the 2020 RBC Taylor Emerging Writer Prize) and Ira Mathur (Winner of the 2023 OCM Bocas Prize for Non-Fiction).
The full Bocas programme can be found at the following link–https://www.bocaslitfest.com/