Nicholas Laughlin is programme director of the Bocas Lit Fest, based in Trinidad and Tobago, which runs an annual literary festival, a series of literary prizes, and year-round writer development and literary promotion activities for Caribbean authors. He is also editor of The Caribbean Review of Books and the arts and travel magazine Caribbean Beat, and co-director of the contemporary arts space Alice Yard. His book of poems The Strange Years of My Life was published in 2015. He was born and has always lived in Port of Spain, Trinidad.
Summary of work
In a part of the world where literary infrastructure is relatively undeveloped, no one has the luxury of being a specialist. So I work on a broad range of programmes and activities aimed at supporting Caribbean literature. They include an annual literary festival, the largest in the Anglophone Caribbean; workshops for writers, editors, and critics; administering a series of literary prizes, chiefly the annual OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature; international promotion of Caribbean and Caribbean-diaspora writers and books; and collaborations among and between writers and artists in the Caribbean region and elsewhere.
Summary of work to develop
I’m interested in expanding the Bocas Lit Fest’s work with new and early-career Caribbean writers based at home in the region, giving them better access to opportunities for development. We need to expand these through closer and genuinely reciprocal collaborations with international partners, to keep Caribbean writing in the mainstream, where it belongs. The Caribbean was a global space avant la lettre, and the world needs to hear our stories and ideas. I’m also keen to establish Bocas as a permanent writers’ centre and Port of Spain as a regional and indeed international hub for writing and publishing.
Nicholas Laughlin on the contradictions of running a literature festival.