This post is going to be a challenge. My heart and mind are full of persons, events, and experiences that inspire words such as gratitude, joy, awe, nostalgia, excitement, and community–merely a few of the terms that spring to mind when I recall the recent week that I spent in Trinidad and Tobago for the extraordinary NGC Bocas Lit Fest.
So where do I begin? Which words do I use to capture how honoured I am to be the 3rd place winner of CODE’s 2016 Burt Award for Caribbean Literature? The glow of pride that started in my stomach and travelled upwards and slightly left, its aura growing and pulsing with each heartbeat, when I read what the jury had to say about The Protector’s Pledge?
“Exciting and fun filled … The tale is emotionally alive with vivid, engaging characters, memorable scenes, full of magic and light … Sprinkled with beautiful prose and descriptions.”
And what about the thrill of listening to Tamika Gibson and Florenz Webbe-Maxwell (first and second place Burt Award winners respectively) share excerpts from their winning titles? Or my elation at seeing Olive Senior receive this year’s OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature?
How best can I explain my immediate sense of family with the 70 other debut authors who were recognised at NALIS’s wonderful Appreciation Programme and the excitement that came with adding our names and book titles to the grand 1st Time Authors tome? Or the familiar warmth of spending much-needed moments, however fleeting, with my Trini loved ones?
Can I hold on to and convey the depth of feeling I experienced while sitting in Holy Trinity Cathedral for a live performance of River of Freedom, listening to what I can only describe as musical magic; the bliss of dancing the night away to soca (better known to my children as “Mummy’s happy music”); and the lovely surprise of seeing and catching up with one of my favourite Vassar professors–the phenomenal Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert?
At what point should I gush about the impromptu visit to my alma mater, St. Joseph’s Convent P.O.S., where each noisy step of my wedged heels brought me back to a still-cherished time when I walked (and sometimes ran) the same hallways in white sneakers and Keds? A visit during which it was impossible to not see my 11-to-18-year-old self in the students who smiled and politely greeted me with “Good morning, Miss” as I toured the school taking pictures with my former Economics teacher, Mr. Mollick.
So, you see? Like I said: quite the challenge. But perhaps a lengthy, detailed post that is full of precise language is not what is needed here. Perhaps I must trust that the words I have used above are the right ones, after all, and that through them you are able to connect with all the gratitude, joy, awe, nostalgia, and excitement that I could barely contain during those eight remarkable days in Port of Spain. Perhaps.
Cilck here to see pictures from the trip.