Lisa Allen-Agostini is a writer and journalist from Trinidad and Tobago. Lisa is the author of the book of poems Swallowing the Sky (Cane Arrow Press, 2015) and The Chalice Project (Macmillan Caribbean, 2008). She is co-editor of Trinidad Noir (Akashic Books, 2008). Her poetry and fiction have appeared in Wasafiri, sx salon, Susumba, Lightspeed Magazine, and past simple. A freelance journalist, she has written for the Trinidad & Tobago Guardian and the Trinidad Express and continues to write for Caribbean Beat magazine, the Caribbean Review of Books and other publications.
In March 2017 Bocas Lit Fest named her as one of the three winners of the CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Literature, a YA writing prize, for her unpublished manuscript Waiting for the Bus. The final announcement of the prize will take place at the opening of the 2017 Bocas Lit Fest, April 26, 2017, in Port-0f-Spain.
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 continues her affiliation with the paper as editor of the Sunday Arts Section.
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 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.
Lisa is the mother of two girls and is currently working on three manuscripts, one of them a young adult story and one a follow-up to The Chalice Project.
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.