Date Archives May 2012

The Body is a Temple by Luke Bitmead

First of all, I should declare an interest. As regular readers will know, I won the Luke Bitmead Writer’s Bursary in 2008, an award set up in Luke’s memory, and winning that award launched my career as a writer. So you could say I was predisposed to like The Body is a Temple, the novel he wrote in the early 2000s but which is now being published for the first time. But I offer my review of the book anyway, and have tried to be as objective as I can…. Read More

Book fairs are dangerous

Do you ever get carried away in bookshops or at bookfairs, and buy far more than you’d planned? Is it consumerism, or bibliophilia? I like to think that, because books are objects of learning, my book-buying binges are a positive thing. But am I deceiving myself? Am I really no different from those people breaking down the doors of Primark in the Boxing Day sales? Anyway, you can see what I bought at Saturday’s book fair, part of the Bim Literary Festival at Queens Park in Bridgetown, Barbados. Some were… Read More

Test of stamina at Bim Literary Festival, day two

Wow. That was intense. Three hours on a hard bench listening to poetry readings with no break and no refreshments. That’s a real test. Luckily it was an open-air event, on the boardwalk at Hastings (the Barbados one, not the UK one). It was easy to get up and stretch your legs occasionally, and the view helped. The occasion was an event called Bim Rock Variations, part of the inaugural Bim Literary Festival. (By the way, I should have mentioned earlier that “Bim” is an informal name that Barbadians use… Read More

Earl Lovelace at Bim Literary Festival

Trinidadian writer Earl Lovelace was the second attraction last night at Bim Literary Festival. For my report on the first part of the evening, with Austin Clarke, click here. Lovelace was asked about the themes of his writing and spoke about the search for selfhood, both on an individual and a societal level. He said that people in the Caribbean don’t always respect the abilities of ordinary people. We still look to ‘best practice’ of other people to tell us what to do. Not only are ordinary people not acknowledged,… Read More

Austin Clarke at Bim Literary Festival

After my unintended gatecrashing of a class with Derek Walcott earlier in the day, this was an event I was actually allowed to attend. It was an interview with two major Caribbean writers, Austin Clarke and Earl Lovelace, followed by readings from their latest work. First up was Austin Clarke, a Barbadian novelist and short-story writer who has lived for most of his life in Canada. He named George Lamming’s Pleasures of Exile as his favourite Barbadian book, and the short story collection There are no Elders as his favourite of… Read More

Learning from Derek Walcott: Bim Literary Festival, day one

How often do you get to meet a Nobel Prize winner? That was my main rationale for going along to a Master Class with Derek Walcott yesterday – that and the prospect of seeing Earl Lovelace and Austin Clarke afterwards. The occasion was the inaugural Bim Literary Festival, a celebration of writers both from here in Barbados and elsewhere in the Caribbean. The event with Derek Walcott wasn’t quite what I’d expected. It turned out to be a workshop for poets, who had registered in advance and submitted manuscripts to be… Read More

Great opportunity for unpublished UK writers

If you are an unpublished UK writer with a novel manuscript ready for submission, I’d strongly recommend that you check out the Luke Bitmead Bursary. Submissions for the 2012 contest are open from now until 3rd August. It’s for UK residents only. This is the contest I entered back in 2008 and, to my amazement, won. Everything that’s happened in my career since then has been a result of entering that contest, so please give yourself a chance and go for it. I was the first winner, and since then… Read More