Writer, Editor, Stand-Up Comedian

Photo: Paula Obé

Lisa Allen-Agostini is a writer, editor and stand-up comedian from Trinidad and Tobago. Lisa’s most recent book is the domestic noir novel The Bread the Devil Knead (forthcoming in May 2021 from Myriad Editions UK).

She’s the author of Young Adult novel Home Home (Delacorte Press, 2020, and Papillote Press, 2018). The manuscript won third prize in the 2017 CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Literature. Her first YA novel was The Chalice Project (Macmillan Caribbean, 2008). Her collection of poems Swallowing the Sky was published by Cane Arrow Press, 2015 and she co-edited the noir anthology Trinidad Noir (Akashic Books, 2008). Her poetry and fiction have appeared in Wasafiri, sx salon, Susumba, Lightspeed Magazine, Moko Magazine and past simple. A freelance journalist for many years, she wrote for the T&T Newsday, Caribbean Beat magazine and other publications.

Lisa has written and performed poetry since childhood. She won a national schools poetry writing competition in 1991 and this gave her further impetus to become a professional writer. She self-published a book of poems called Something to Say in 1992.

Her career as a journalist began at the Trinidad Express, where she was a feature writer and the editor of a weekly youth magazine, Vox. Moving to the Guardian, she continued to write features, eventually becoming assistant editor of features. In 2001 she was awarded an Alfred Friendly Press Fellowship to The Washington Post and spent some five months as a journalist on the Style Desk there. She left full time work at the Guardian in 2007 as Internet editor but continued her affiliation with the paper as editor of the Sunday Arts Section. She joined the Newsday team as a freelance reporter in 2017.

Having been an actor with the Trinidad Theatre Workshop, she studied stagecraft and literature at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine, while earning a BA in Literatures in English (First Class Hons). Her writing has reflected this experience and she has written a handful of plays, one of which was staged as a dramatic reading as part of a playwrighting workshop headed by the late Tony Hall, a Trinidad & Tobago theatre legend.

As a poet she has toured Trinidad & Tobago with an ensemble of women writers called Ten Sisters. Her work appears on the group’s self-titled CD, published by FishInk Press.

Lisa writes in a variety of genres and voices, but is probably best known in her homeland for her weekly column, written in Trinidad Creole, in the Guardian. It ran from 2006-2010 and covered issues of governance, parenting, society, children’s rights, education, the arts and the economy, among others. Lisa resumed writing a column — this time in Standard English — in the Guardian from 2012- 2015.

In 2009 she founded The Allen Prize for Young Writers, an NGO registered in Trinidad & Tobago as a not-for-profit company. Its aim is to improve writing in Trinidad & Tobago by giving prizes, seminars and workshops to teen writers, and publishing their works. It began its inaugural programme in September, 2010, and worked until 2015. It is now on hiatus pending changes to its administrative and funding structure.

In 2019 she started the partnership FemComTT with Louris Lee-Sing. As Just Lisa and Lyrix they perform Caribbean feminist stand-up comedy. They co-host a twice-weekly talk show called The Givin’ Trouble Show on Facebook Live.