From left and clockwise: Michael Magee, Stephen Connolly, Jan Carson, Hilary Copeland and Padraig Regan
Friday 28 April 2023


BOCAS Literature Festival in Trinidad and Tobago will celebrate some of Northern Ireland’s most exciting writers through a series of events this weekend (Friday, 28 April- Sunday, 30 April).

The festival, supported by the British Council, will play host to 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’s 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 showcase 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.

Notes to Editor

About the writers/ publishers:

Hilary Copeland joined Fighting Words Northern Ireland, the creative writing network for children and young people, as the inaugural Director in March 2021. Hilary has worked across business management, strategic planning, creative programming and event delivery for festivals, arts and theatre companies and non-profits in Edinburgh, Belfast and Dublin since 2008.

Padraig Regan is a poet and essayist from Belfast. They have been shortlisted for the Forward Prize Best First Collection, and are the author of two previous poetry pamphlets. They received an Eric Gregory Award in 2015, an Ireland Chair of Poetry Bursary Award in 2020, and the Clarissa Luard Award in 2021.

Michael Magee is the fiction editor of The Tangerine and a graduate of the PhD Creative Writing programme at Queen's University, Belfast. His writing has appeared in Winter Papers, The Stinging Fly, The Lifeboat and in The 32: An Anthology of Working Class Writing. Close to Home is his first novel.

Stephen Connolly is a writer, editor and designer from Belfast. He is a founding editor of The Lifeboat Press, where he has published new work by Michael Magee, Paul Muldoon, Susannah Dickey, and Leontia Flynn. In 2022, he was appointed as the first Festival Curator at Listowel Writers’ Week, the oldest literature festival in Ireland.

Jan Carson is a novelist, short story writer and community arts facilitator from Belfast, Northern Ireland who is currently ARIEL Writer in Residence at the Université de Lorraine, France. She won the EU Prize for Literature in  Ireland in 2019. Jan won the 2016 Harper’s Bazaar short story competition and was shortlisted for the BBC National Story Prize (2020)

For media enquiries, please contact:

Claire McAuley, British Council: +44 (0)7542268752 E:

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We support peace and prosperity by building connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and countries worldwide. We do this through our work in arts and culture, education and the English language. We work with people in over 200 countries and territories and are on the ground in more than 100 countries. In 2021-22 we reached 650 million people.