Prominent poets and novelists from across the Caribbean and its diaspora. Virgin Islands writers, businesspeople, filmmakers and musicians. A Nobel Prize-winning economist.
All are among the dozens of presenters scheduled to take the stage during the third annual BVI Literary Festival.
Following a private reception today, guest speakers will lead panel discussions, workshops and readings on Friday and Saturday, and the festival will conclude on Sunday with a book-themed brunch.
H. Lavity Stoutt Community College President Dr. Richard Georges, who spearheaded the creation of the festival, said organisers are proud of what they have achieved with the help of the Unite BVI Foundation and other supporters.
“The festival promotes Caribbean literature from throughout the diaspora and is meant to encourage and develop local writers and young people,” Dr. Georges said.
Most of the day-time events on Friday and Saturday will be held at the college, where experts will offer their thoughts on poetry, film and other forms of literature. Readings and other activities will be held at venues around Tortola. (See event details here.)
“It is our hope that the festival grows into an integral vehicle for local literature, literacy, and cultural tourism,” Dr. Georges said.
The festival is the first of many activities planned for the territory’s annual observance of Culture and Tourism Month.
The multi-faceted celebration — which launched at the St. Philip’s Anglican Church ruins in Kingstown yesterday evening after the Beacon’s deadline — will also include food festivals, musical performances, a film competition, educational presentations and more.
Culture Director Dr. Katherine Smith said she is particularly excited about the introduction of a Nov. 18 event at HLSCC that will laud the territory’s newly designated “national heroes.”
“As we can see, there are many creative ways through our cultural and creative arts — and through our cultural heritage — to tell our authentic story,” Dr. Smith said in a press release.
Another focus this year, she said, will be raising awareness about the value of preserving heritage sites in the territory.
The festivities also include the launch of “The Capsule Project,” a community-fuelled initiative to add to digital archives. More details are available at kickinitvi.com/capsule.
Other events include a seminar of culinary and visual arts on Nov. 15; the 284 Excellence Film Competition on Nov. 19; the Cultural Food Fair Extravaganza on Nov. 24; the Anegada Lobster Fest Nov. 24-26; the Fungi Festival Nov. 24-26; recognition of the Commemoration of the Great March and Restoration of the Legislative Council on Nov. 27; an award ceremony for the Cultural Decoration Competition on Nov. 29; and the closing ceremony on Nov. 30.
At the Literary Festival, a series of panels will be held tomorrow at HLSCC.
Dr. Georges will lead some of them, including one about the 20th Century novelist Sam Selvon.
Also on the line-up is a group of four Puerto Rican poets, who will offer their thoughts on identity and how it translates to the written word. Later in the day, Leone Ross, Eleanor Shearer and Mavis Abednego will discuss Caribbean-British authors.
Attendees of “Auteurs in Bloom” will get to enjoy a conversation about filmmaking in the VI and screenings of a few short films.
For those seeking an interactive experience, songwriters Eustace “Boss” Freeman, Kamau Georges and Alton Bertie will host a lab delving into the territory’s musical history.
At another panel, authors will explore what it means to be an “ethical traveller.”
Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman will round out Friday’s sessions with a virtual panel on “The Future of Money.”
In the evening, authors including Charmaine Wilkerson, Tiphanie Yanique and Alecia McKenzie will read excerpts from their most recent works at Brandywine Estate Restaurant for “Sunset Stories.” Organisers said no reservations or registration is required.
During a series of workshops on Saturday, new and experienced writers will get a chance to learn from the presenters in person.
Puerto Rico poet Ana Portnoy Brimmer will lead a session on odes, and author Tiphanie Yanique, who is a member of the Virgin Islands Studies Collective, will lead a fiction workshop.
For non-fiction fans, memoirist Faith Adielé will lead a workshop on telling one’s life story.
Literary agent Elise Dillsworth is also offering one-on-one coaching sessions for authors attempting to navigate the world of publishing, though all the slots for Friday and Saturday were claimed by the Beacon’s deadline.
The final workshop on Saturday offers an “insider’s guide” to the world of publishing from Yona Deshommes, who founded her own public relations company geared toward promoting authors of colour. Workshop attendees must register in advance.
Also on Saturday, Janice George Harris, noted for her contributions to theatre in the VI, will host a children’s book camp in the morning.
On Saturday evening, the “Light a Fire” poetry showcase will be hosted at Sushi Bar in Road Town.
Participants will be treated to performances by poets including Anthony Anaxagorou, Canisia Lubrin, Shivanee Ramlochan, Yesha Townsend, Ariel Francisco, Dr. Georges, April Glasgow, Giovanni Herbert, Errol Percival Jr., and Kamaal Lettsome.
Attendees should make a reservation in advance.
Rounding out the literary celebration on Sunday is “Books and Brunch” from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 1748 Restaurant in the Long Bay Beach Resort.
Attendance is free without a reservation, and visitors can enjoy a complimentary drink and 25 percent discount on brunch meals.
For registration and more details, go to www.bvilitfest.com.