Sunday, April 25, 2021

Bocas Lit Fest and your next YA novel

 This weekend Bocas Lit Fest is on virtually. Fantastic, eh! I have not been able to get on before, due to my own technological problems, but I'm enjoying it now.

And this, without apology, brings me back to the Burt Caribbean Award. 2014 was the inaugural Award. My book Island Princess in Brooklyn was shortlisted. The winners were Inner City Girl by Colleen Smith-Dennis; Musical Youth by Joanne Hillhouse; and All Over Again by A-dZika Gegele. They deserved to be winners; I enjoyed them, but here, in the essence of space and time, I can only mention some of the things that engaged me. I was literally on the edge of my bed with parts of Inner City Girl, saying, 'don't let him (predator in her 'family') back you into the house, girl.' I loved the knowledge of music that the youth had in Musical Youth, showing that young people can have interests other than what we might expect, while still being 'normal' youth. With All Over Again, nobody writes comedy like A-dZika!

The overseas sponsorship for the award having ended, I truly cannot see why another sponsor cannot step up.   As I said, give only a first and second prize, or only a first prize. One prize and seeing that a number of books are in schools is lunch/entertainment money for some companies. I once said that in a extended family function, I being an educator and writer (accustomed to no money) and many of the others being from the private sector. Well them nearly nyam me (eat, for the uninitiated into our Creole) but in this context, if they could have swallowed me whole, or shredded me first, they would have done so. Sacred cow? Now, with Covid fretting us, is not the time to approach anybody, public or private sector, but it is something to think about.

We should also, in all fairness, ask what has become of the Jamaican awards; Vic Reid Award (young adult) and the newly minted Jean D'Costa Award (children). For similar reasons mentioned above, this is not the time to pursue sponsors. However, do you know how many young people might have gained courage from these books, or those not yet written? It's a psychological fact that even though they are important, the lockdowns are taking their toll. Fright, depression and short tempers are all over the word. I promise you that the right book will help your young adult escape for a while; or show them that we are not the first persons to have gone through this sort of upheaval. Our Young Adult books are important for our young adults!

So guys, who is going to write a YA  book about the St. Vincent volcanic eruptions and the effect on the other islands, and as small islands we cannot escape. Conflict upon conflict, danger and more danger! Write it guys! By the time you finish we may have found a sponsor for YA Caribbean Awards. You can show them this blog, or just use your powers of persuasion.

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