Brooklyn, NY – The Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival (BCLF) has been named among the first recipients of the 2023 Hawthornden Foundation Grant which will support the organisation’s multifaceted programmed efforts to amplify, expand and showcase the contributions of Caribbean-American and writers of Caribbean heritage within the diaspora. The Hawthornden Foundation mission to support organisations in the literary arts makes this award a perfect alignment with the BCLF’s raison d’etre. There are plans for the fifteen thousand dollar ($15,000) grant award to be directly channelled into the robust and expanding programmes that the BCLF offers, including the CocoaPod storytelling podcast and its annual festival in September. The festival is a rich showcase of Caribbean literature through the pen of the writer and the voice of the poet.
“As a growing organisation dedicated to the promotion of the Caribbean and Caribbean-American literary contributions to the cultural tapestry of New York and more broadly of the United States and Canada, we are incredibly pleased to have been selected as a Hawthornden Foundation awardee. This recognition represents the acknowledgement burgeoning festivals need from larger cultural bodies in order for them to create meaningful impact. For the BCLF, Hawthornden’s support is a valuable offset to the work we do with the literary festival to amplify historically underrepresented writers of which Caribbean writers are a part. It also equips us to create greater opportunities and access to meaningful resources for them to perfect their craft,” said Marsha Massiah-Aaron, Founder of the Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival. “This grant award matters from the most practical considerations of the requirements of powering a non-profit operation to the equally beneficial exposure this very public endorsement by an historic philanthropic powerhouse like Hawthornden brings,” she continued.
- Advertisement -
The grant award comes in time for the organisation’s fifth anniversary of its capstone project of the same name in September. Entitled Festival Five, 2023’s festival pays homage to the years spent since its launch in 2019 falling in love afresh with Caribbean stories, brainstorming ways to enshrine its works into posterity while innovating fresh strategies to catapult them into the future. Caribbean stories are universal stories and in them, one can read the world (Shivanee Ramlochan). The BCLF sees and cherishes the nourishing role of the islands, its true Home, as the source of the Caribbean artistic sensibility. It understands that as Caribbean people move away from Home, it is equally important to acknowledge the way their voices bend and shift through time and space. Diaspora stories deserve to be heard, the narratives of Caribbean scion are vitally important, and the organisation is building a bridge for the movement of Caribbean stories between the region and its diaspora.
“At the BCLF, we are seeing first-hand the urgent need to fill critical gaps for Caribbean storytellers starting first with the plural city of Brooklyn, which boasts the largest expatriate Caribbean population outside of the region. These gaps, once met, will result in equitable opportunities for writers of Caribbean heritage to hone their craft, and access to wider audiences/resources in order to move from the shadows to the forefront of the industry where many of them belong. Hubs like NYC are especially important because of its concentration of resident human and cultural resources. The BCLF understands that our city is great because we reflect multiple diversities (cultural, sexual, social, linguistic) and consider the numerous perspectives that are daily brought to our society’s collective table. Through this notable grant from the Hawthornden Foundation, we are confident that our work to support this writing community will go a long way in scaffolding the continued evolution of an inclusive wider society through the literary arts; will empower and motivate a generation of new storytellers to find the courage to tell their own stories, foster appreciation among others for the Caribbean contribution and voice and and above all, celebrate our differences.” Marsha Massiah-Aaron