posted on April 28th, 2023

Caribbean festival to celebrate Northern Ireland writers this weekend

BOCAS Literature Festival in Trinidad and Tobago will celebrate some of Northern Ireland’s most exciting writers through a series of events this weekend (until Sunday, 30 April).

The festival, supported by the British Council, will host Northern Ireland writers Jan Carson, Padraig Regan and Michael Magee, who are joined by Belfast’s Lifeboat Press publisher Stephen Connolly and Director of Fighting Words NI, a creative writing charity for children in Northern Ireland, Hilary Copeland.

East Belfast-based writer, Jan Carson, who is best known for her books including The Fire Starters and The Raptures, will host talks and workshops, including the basics of writing imaginative and engaging short fiction; meanwhile poet Padraig Regan, will join a panel discussion examining the body, mind and soul in poetry and queer writing; and west Belfast native Michael Magee, will bring his much anticipated debut, Close to Home, to Bocas.

Bocas Lit Fest is one of the Caribbean’s premier literature festivals, with this series of events a result of a partnership between Bocas and Belfast International Arts Festival which formed in 2021. Most recently, Belfast International Arts Festival showcased Caribbean writers at Belfast’s No Alibis Bookshop including Ayanna Lloyd Banwo with her captivating debut novel, When We Were Birds and Irish Trinidadian writer, Amanda Smyth, and her historical novel Fortune.

This partnership is supported by the British Council and aims to widen appreciation of contemporary writing from Northern Ireland and the Caribbean, alongside developing new commissions with Lifeboat Press and youth focused projects with Fighting Words NI.

Speaking about the collaboration was Jonathan Stewart, Director, British Council Northern Ireland. He said: “We’re delighted to have Northern Ireland writers showcased in the Caribbean, and this is testament to the exciting literary, press and publishing scenes here. Over the years, Northern Ireland has produced world-famous poets, playwrights and novelists, and there is a wealth of talent. We hope this weekend will help bring Northern Ireland writers to new international audiences, while building and strengthening connections between Northern Ireland and the Caribbean.”

Bocas Lit Fest runs from today (Friday, 28 April) until Sunday, 30 April. For more information visit:

This collaboration continues the British Council’s work, building connection, understanding and trust between people in the UK and overseas through arts, education and English language teaching. To find out more about their work in Northern Ireland visit or follow on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

From left and clockwise: Michael Magee, Stephen Connolly, Jan Carson, Hilary Copeland and Padraig Regan