Writers earn shortlist places for this year's OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature

From a longlist of ten impressive titles, this year's Bocas Prize judges have whittled down a shortlist of three books, by a prolific Commonwealth Writers' Prize-winning storyteller, a professor of Caribbean Literature and creative writing, and a political analyst and lawyer who served as the Attorney General of Belize.

The shortlist announcement was made yesterday with these three books, already winners in their own categories, going on to vie for the overall 2012 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature of US$10,000, sponsored by One Caribbean Media, the largest media house in Trinidad and Tobago and owner of TV6, Express and Hott 93.

Trinidadian, novelist, playwright and short-story writer Earl Lovelace is this year's fiction category winner, for his sixth novel, Is Just A Movie. Hailed as "intensely poetic and lyrical", the judges go on to describe the work as "a tapestry of island history… steeped in place and full of beautifully realised characters."

Winning the poetry category is Puerto Rican writer and professor Loretta Collins Klobah's book, The Twelve-Foot Neon Woman. Judges praised the collection as displaying a "hard-earned maturity of poetic spirit", adding that the title poem marks "a tour de force of the historical and cultural imagination".

Belizean politician, columnist and attorney Godfrey P Smith is the winner in the non-fiction category for his biography of Belize's first prime minister, George Price: A Life Revealed. A "well-crafted narrative that mixes affection and gratitude with something like awe," the judges remarked, defining the publication as a deft exploration of George Price's "eccentric genius and political acumen."

It is from these three titles that an overall Prize winner will be declared on April 28, 2012, as part of the second annual NGC Bocas Lit Fest (April 26 to 29) in Port of Spain. Last year's Prize was won by Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott, for his most recent poetry collection, White Egrets.

Speaking about the OCM Bocas Prize, founder and festival director, Marina Salandy-Brown, said, "Again this year we have previously unpublished authors lining up with acknowledged literary stars for the Prize. Godfrey P Smith is a newcomer and Loretta Collins Klobah's collection of poetry is her first. The Prize is bringing great writing by new and established writers to the attention of a wider audience, which is what we set out to do."

The OCM Bocas Prize, now in its second year, is open to books that were published in the previous calendar year by writers of Caribbean birth or citizenship. The 2012 panel of judges boasts a gathering of eminent authors and academics based both in the Caribbean and abroad and is chaired by the Barbadian writer, George Lamming.

The four-day 2012 NGC Bocas Lit Fest is principally sponsored by The National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago with supporting sponsorship from OCM and KFC. Other sponsors include the Commonwealth Foundation, First Citizens, Courts and Flow.

The 2012 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature shortlist: Poetry The Twelve-Foot Neon Woman, by Loretta Collins Klobah (Puerto Rico) Fiction Is Just A Movie, by Earl Lovelace (Trinidad and Tobago) Non-fiction George Price: A Life Revealed, by Godfrey P Smith (Belize).