By Kamal Haynes, BVI News Staff
Local author and educator Dr Richard Georges recently won the 2020 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature for his poetry book entitled Epiphaneia.
The OCM Bocas Prize is the top literary award in the region which judge’s eligible authors in three categories — poetry, fiction, and literary non-fiction for work published in the previous calendar year.
Dr Georges won his poetry category before claiming the overall award and a grand prize of $10,000. He emerged victorious against the likes of well-known Jamaican author Curdella Forbes, Caribbean writer Sarah Collins, Trinidadian-American poet Lauren K Alleyne, and Trinidadian-Scottish writer Vahni Capildeo.
Speaking to BVI News following his milestone achievement, Dr Georges said he was very pleased to receive such a pivotal award.
“Having people read you at all is already an honour because people are carving out some time to spend time investing in what it is that you have created. To be recognised in such a manner, individually for me, it’s a validation for me to continue to press and devote the time and the sacrifices required to write,” Dr Georges stated.
BVI inspired the award-winning Epiphaneia
He said his book was inspired by the British Virgin Islands’ road to recovery following the devastation caused by the 2017 hurricanes.
The author said it is a very hopeful but refined introspection of the aftermath of Hurricane Irma and its effects on the territory, both in terms of trauma and resilience.
“Epiphaneia is my third book and its almost like a trilogy if you will and Epiphaneia’s focus is like the aftermath of a natural destruction, but both as individuals and as a community we were able to find a whelm of resilience to recover and to rebound and to make life go again,” he explained.
Hope’s achievement inspires upcoming local authors
Dr Georges, who is also the Acting President of the H Lavity Stoutt Community College, said he hopes his achievement motivates some of the promising talents here in the BVI.
He said believes it’s about facilitating these young talents and finding ways in which they can be supported.
“It is a major way for BVIslanders to see themselves in literature, and the more local artists are published internationally the more writing of arts become a viable or possible future for younger Virgin Islanders,” he said.
Importance of having an established publisher
Dr Georges’ book is published by Out-Spoken Press which is an independent UK publishing company. He said there are many benefits to publishing with an established organisation.
“A lot of our writers have self-published over the years and when you self-publish, you don’t have the mechanism of a publisher to market and support and carve more opportunities for you internationally,” he stated.
“The whole thing is about starting to build a tradition here with our local writers where we can start to arrive at those kinds of levels where we are being published by major international presses and therefore getting a bigger readership and becoming more and more in control of our own storytelling,” the author further explained.
Dr Georges, in the meantime, said he will be taking a break from releasing a book in 2020, as his previous two books ‘Make Us All Islands’ and ‘Giant’ were released in 2017 and 2018, respectively.
He, however, said he will be working on some fiction short stories, as he aspires to complete a novel following the break.
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