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Nicholas Laughlin on the contradictions of running a literature festival

'I’m not sure I like literature festivals,' writes Nicholas Laughlin (organiser of the NGC Bocas Lit Fest and Peepal Tree author) in a provocation for the International Literature Showcase.

'My confession is a contradiction, perhaps a conundrum, but I hope not a total hypocrisy. Whatever literature is — and I strain for the broadest possible definition — I swear allegiance to it,' he goes on to say. Nicholas then goes on to describe how Bocas has become 'a sort of unofficial Ministry of Literature' in the Caribbean, and how it's important.

Then he sums up: 'If I’ve taken nothing else from books, I’ve learned how to find balance in a tension of contradictions. So I may sigh and fret and long for the seclusion of book and bed and door closed against the rabblesome world. And at the same moment feel gratified to help make these occasions for those who love literature in its other forms: loud and lively, sociable and crowded. The words are what matter, whether cherished on the page or on the stage — or in any other place where literature thrives and provokes.'

Read the full provocation to learn how a Vahni Capildeo reading of Martin Carter moved him, revealing a poem he thought he knew for the first time; and how adult learners with literacy barriers took up the challenge of engaging with words and read aloud narratives of their own lives in public. Mostly, read it for an enlightening view into Trinidad & Tobago's only literary festival and the vital role it plays in supporting and nourishing local talent.

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