Books, Bites and The Allen Prize

The official event flyer.

The Allen Prize for Young Writers hosted a fundraiser sale last Saturday at Alice Yard. I was pleased to volunteer my time and expert novice sign-making abilities, but I confess straightaway that I had ulterior motives. (Books. Used, delicious books.)

I interviewed Lisa Allen-Agostini, founder and chair of the Allen Prize, in the midst of a packed 2012 Bocas Lit Fest schedule. It was only then that I realized properly how indispensable the foundation has been to fledgling young writers, particularly those who receive no other recognition for their work. The Allen Prize is a not-for-profit organization, dependent on goodwill and the revenue generated by events such as these. The first of these baked goods and used book fundraisers was held in late August, and one can hope (dream?) that the Trini bibliophile crowd will be treated to a third before year’s end, or early in 2013.

Customers linger thoughtfully in front of the Literary Fiction section.

I browsed. I taped up price lists and endeavoured to respond helpfully to patron queries. I shamelessly hid books I’d earmarked for myself minutes before customers wandered in. (I paid for all my books, okay.) I had brilliant conversations about all manner of bookish topics, and I avoided throwing myself upon the delectable pastries. There are distinct things I love about used book sales: the rich multiple-partner marriage of tomes from so many households, each title telling not just the story in print, but the funny, weird, moving stories of their previous owners. We learn so much about books and the people who loved or loathed them, through margin scribblings, dedications, curious bookmarks, a dogeared page or much-creased spine.

(L) Joshua Sammy, the 2012 Allen Prize Young Writer of The Year, in conversation with children’s storyteller Auntie Thea and romance writer, Heather Rodney-Diaz. (R) A patron browses selections in Caribbean fiction.

The Allen Prize posse knows how to host a seriously addictive second-hand book sale. That’s good news for the talented young writers who benefit from the worthy fundraising, and equally happy tidings for those in love with all things literary.

 My shameless, shameless haul.  

For more information on the work that The Allen Prize for Young Writers does, visit their official website, as well as their frequently-updated Facebook page. Event photographs courtesy Lisa Allen-Agostini.
Photo collages created with Pixlr. 

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