Iconic Barbadian poet Kamau Brathwaite.

The iconic Barbadian poet Kamau Brathwaite, who died in February this year, would have been 90 on May 11.

To mark the occasion, the Bocas Lit Fest—which recently honoured Brathwaite with the 2020 Bocas Henry Swanzy Award—is hosting an online celebration of the poet’s work and legacy.

The festival team has released a specially commissioned video, featuring a reading of Brathwaite’s poem “Wake” by thirteen writers from across the Caribbean. It includes past winners of the OCM Bocas Prize for Poetry, alongside other writers scheduled to participate in the 2020 NGC Bocas Lit Fest—now postponed to 18–20 September.

The video is available at the webpage www.bocaslitfest.com/celebrating-kamau.brathwaite, and is also posted to the festival’s YouTube and Facebook pages.

In addition, the NGC Bocas Lit Fest team have curated a selection of links from around the web, bringing together poems by Brathwaite, archival audio and video recordings, and tributes to his literary legacy—a virtual birthday present for lovers of Brathwaite and of Caribbean poetry, say the organisers.

Other commemorations of Brathwaite’s 90th birthday include the online project 40 Nights of the Voice, organised by a Canada-based collective. Started last Monday, for 40 nights, the project will release videos of Brathwaite’s work, read by a diverse array of writers and scholars, via the Twitter account @KamauRemix.

Poetry lovers everywhere are invited to join in by posting their own videos, with the hashtags #KamauBrathwaite and #40NightsofTheVoice.

The Brathwaite tribute video is just one of numerous online activities rolled as part of the NGC Bocas Lit Fest, both to mark the tenth year of the festival and to engage readers and writers during the period of social distancing due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The tenth NGC Bocas Lit Fest will take place from September 18-20. Title sponsor is the National Gas Company, lead sponsor is First Citizens, main sponsors are the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts and One Caribbean Media. The National Lotteries Control Board, Massy Foundation and UWI are sponsors.