Spotlight on CaribLit
Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean is the inaugural release of Peekash Press, an imprint created by Akashic Books and Peepal Tree Press with an exclusive focus on Caribbean literature. Pepperpot and Peekash Press is a joint venture between Akashic and Peepal Tree, in collaboration with Commonwealth Writers, the British Council, the Kingston Book Festival, NGC Bocas Lit Fest, and CaribLit.
To celebrate the release of Pepperpot, we are thrilled to feature spotlights of a few of these organizations throughout April; today, we’re pleased to spotlight CaribLit, introduced by Kellie Magnus.
CaribLit is a collaborative regional effort to strengthen and promote Caribbean literature and publishing. Founded in 2012 by three partner—the Bocas Literary Festival, the Commonwealth Writers, and the British Council—the initiative was developed in response to the recognition of the low output of literature from the Caribbean as well as the relative weakness and limited development of the publishing infrastructure across the region. Currently, CaribLit focuses on developing and sharing research on the Caribbean publishing sector and coordinating collective promotional and retail opportunities for Caribbean books in the Caribbean and select international markets.
CaribLit also works with a network of partners to implement other programs to strengthen Caribbean publishing. Peekash Press, the imprint under which the Pepperpot anthology is published, emerged from a forum on business opportunities in the Caribbean publishing sector, organized by CaribLit in partnership with the Kingston Book Festival, in 2013. The new imprint will focus on publishing previously unpublished authors based in the Caribbean, and will have significant regionally-based editorial input. Peekash will be closely integrated with CaribLit moving forward, and will serve as one of the agency’s core publishing partners.
Since its launch in 2012, some of CaribLit’s other activities have included:
- Writers’ workshops offered by CaribLit members in Jamaica and in Trinidad.
- The creation of an online trade hub, cariblit.org, which provides a central resource for persons working in Caribbean publishing. The website includes the CaribLit Directory, a mapping of the major components of the industry, including publishers; distributors; booksellers; fairs and festivals; prizes and competitions; and media. The website also carries coverage of major regional and international book fairs and industry events; features on best practices in publishing and book selling; and interviews with leading industry figures. The website is linked to all major Caribbean publishing entities. Since its launch in April 2012, the website has received more than 100 publishing inquiries, which have been responded to by the Coordinator. These inquiries include advice on finding the right publisher; self-publishing; finding printers; finding bookstores in Caribbean islands; and finding opportunities to promote books.
- An online CaribLit Book Club has been established to promote Caribbean books to the online audience and to encourage discussion and engagement. Books featured in 2013 include Disposable People by Ezekel Alan (Jamaica); Archipelago by Monique Roffey (Trinidad); All Decent Animals by Oonya Kempadoo (Grenada) and Sketcher by Roland Watson Grant (Jamaica). 2014 titles include Drifting by Katia D. Ulysse (Haiti).
- An agreement with Caribbean Writers World, a start-up focusing on creating opportunities for Caribbean writers to publish and promote their work. CaribLit will work with CWW on an annual anthology of Caribbean writing; an index of Caribbean books in print (which will inform the CaribLit rights catalog); seasonal catalogs of new releases; and the publishing of Caribbean book reviews.
- A writer-in-residence program was established at St. George’s University (SGU) in Grenada in January 2014. Under the writer-in-residence program, a Caribbean writer will be offered six weeks residence at SGU, in exchange for providing advisory and training services to the local writing community. The writer will give readings at SGU, local schools, libraries, writers’ organizations, and other institutions, reading from their work in progress and fielding questions on the writing process. These readings will be recorded for the SGU radio station and for the Grenada Information Service, and will be shared with the wider Caribbean writing community via the CaribLit website. The writer-in-residence will also offer creative writing workshops at SGU, secondary schools, and the T. A. Marryshow Community College. The writer-in-residence will also keep office hours for two half-days a week for consultation with members of the SGU and Grenadian community. These consultations will include reviews of works-in-progress by up-and-coming writers as well as fielding queries on the publishing process. The six weeks of the residence may be broken up into two three-week blocks, with the approval of the SGU Writer-in Residence Program Coordinator.
- Workshops on writing for children and young adults were hosted in Jamaica and Guyana in March 2014 in collaboration with CODE, a Canadian non-governmental organization focused on supporting literacy and local publishing around the world. The workshop will be repeated in Trinidad and Tobago in April.Visit CaribLit online at their website, on Facebook, and on Twitter.
Posted: Apr 10, 2014
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