Kudos to the organisers of the recent BVI Literary Festival on establishing a highly successful annual event that has quickly become a not-to-miss celebration of Caribbean literature and culture.
The four-day festival, which kicked off on Nov. 2, featured prominent poets, novelists and other writers from across the Caribbean and its diaspora while also placing a special emphasis on the accomplishments of Virgin Islanders.
Now in its third year, the festival, which convened about 40 writers for a series of events centred around H. Lavity Stoutt Community College, offered an extensive and in-depth look at the diversity of Caribbean literature and culture.
Featured authors included award-winning poet and novelist Tiphanie Yanique from the United States Virgin Islands, HLSCC president and VI Poet Laureate Dr. Richard Georges, VI film director Enya Douglas-Tarabay, Trinidadian writer Shivanee Ramlochan, and many, many others.
The range of accomplished participants showed just how many authors from across the region and diaspora were willing to take time out of their schedules to celebrate their craft in the VI.
While the event emphasised the written word, we were heartened to see that organisers also highlighted filmmakers, musicians, spoken-word poets, entrepreneurs, and other creatives.
Additionally, the inclusion of workshops and panel discussions served to stoke the ambition of creative VI youths, who we believe will contribute to the oeuvre of Caribbean literature now and in the future.
The festival was a fitting start to the territory’s annual observance of Culture and Tourism Month, and we second Dr. Georges’ suggestion that the event is becoming an “integral vehicle for local literature, literacy and cultural tourism.”
It is also worth highlighting that the festival is very much a collaborative effort, hosted with the support of the college, the government, the non-profit Unite BVI, and a range of private businesses that came on board as sponsors.
We urge the government and other partners to continue to support the event with participation, publicity and funds as needed. We also hope the community will build on this success year-round with more events, research initiatives, classes and other programmes focused on the territory’s rich literature, history and culture. Expanding the groundbreaking VI Studies Programme at HLSCC would be a great place to start.
In many ways, the VI is already undergoing an artistic and cultural renaissance. Events like the literary festival will accelerate and enrich that process.
Ultimately, though, the virtue of continuing to celebrate and support VI and other Caribbean authors and creatives is its own reward. The festival was a timely reminder that ideas and expression matter deeply and enrich the lives of all.