Calabash International Literary Festival Returns this Weekend

This weekend, an estimated 5,000 lovers of literature and poetry will descend on the community of Treasure Beach on Jamaica’s south coast to listen to 30 authors read from their works at the Calabash International Literary Festival. The theme of this year’s festival, which starts this Friday, May 25th and ends on Sunday, is Jubilation! 50.

Started 11 years ago, Calabash was shelved last year because of lack of funding. At the time of the announcement, the organizers, poet Kwame Dawes and novelist Colin Channer, and hotelier Justine Henzell, promised that the festival would be back this year for Jamaica’s 50th anniversary celebration of its independence from Britain.

With a lineup of international and local authors, poets and musicians, from Nigeria, South Africa, Ethiopia, the U.S. and the U.K., this year’s Calabash International Literary Festival resumes its proven format. Gathered under a huge tent that is pitched just steps from the Caribbean Sea, attendees will hear the sound of waves crashing (or rolling) to the shore as they listen to readings interspersed with interviews and open mic performances. Each day’s session ends with music.

The following authors will be heard at the Calabash International Literature Festival this weekend:

Chimamanda Adichie        The Admiral                   Wayne Armond     Jacqueline Bishop    Loretta Collins
Carolyn Cooper                   Michael “Ibo” Cooper   Christine Craig     Fred D’Aguilar           Marcia Douglas
Garfield Ellis                       Carolyn Forche               Steve Golding       Vivien Goldman        Colin Grant
Laura Henzell                     Paul Holdengraber        Melissa Jones        Sadie Jones                Ronnie Kasrils
Victor Lavalle                     Shara McCallum             Alecia McKenzie    Maaza Mengiste        Anis Moigani
Orlando Patterson            Patricia Powell                Claudia Rankine     Olive Senior               Seretse Small
Sonjah Stanley Niaah      Ian Thomson                   Kerry Young             Kevin Young

Despite its funding problems, the Calabash International Literary Festival remains free and open to the public. Donations are welcomed and can be made at their website.

Other literature festivals that take place in the Caribbean:

* Anguilla Literary Festival, May
* BIM Literary Festival & Bookfair (Barbados), May
* Bocas Literary Festival (Trinidad & Tobago), April
* Havana International Book Fair, February
* Nature Island Literary Festival (Dominica), August
* St. Martin Bookfair, May


14 comments on “Calabash International Literary Festival Returns this Weekend

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  3. Wonderful!! I will miss this! Marcia, please enjoy for me as well.
    I will look out for your updates.

  4. Thanks, Nicole! Last night was very lovely — some fabulous readings on reggae music. Chimananda Achidie had us enthralled and George Lavalle had us in stitches. I missed my Calabash posse though. You would have loved it.

  5. Definitely looks like a big event coming up! I am not very fond of reading but I like reading stuff that depicts different cultures! Could you suggest some thing to read? Something that depicts Jamaican cultures, your traditions, rituals everything?

  6. It was a very lovely event. I managed to see most of the authors and poets and the performers at the open mic sessions.
    I’ll have to compile a list – nothing’s coming to me now.

  7. We recently had the Sydney Writer’s Festival. It goes for one week and is for children. Authors travel around Sydney and give talks to large groups of school children about the creative process, their ideas, challenges, and inspiration. They are then available to sign copies of their books and speak with the children. The kids absolutely love it. It brings a different dimension to a novel if they have met the author.

  8. That’s such a wonderful idea! It makes sense to engage young people so that they develop an interest in reading and continue doing so when they become adults. Love it!

  9. Hi there

    Do you know yet whether the Festival will be going ahead in 2013? I’d be very interested to talk about my book Olga – A Daughter’s Tale written as the result of reseach into my Jamaican mother’s past and why I wrote it.


  10. Hi Marie,
    I haven’t heard otherwise so I assume it will. If you’d like to read, you should contact the organizers right away.
    Good luck with your book. It sounds very interesting.


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