Literary Life After the Calabash International Literary Festival

Joan Andrea Hutchinson
Thanks to my poet of the month, Joan Andrea Hutchinson, for bringing to my attention the planned Asante Adonai Literary Lyme, being organized by Dr. Leachim Semaj, for May 2011 at Asante Adonai, Winefield, St. Ann in Jamaica. See the Jamaica Sunday Gleaner of March 27, 2011 for more details.

Dr. Semaj plans to build on the Calabash model, and in the above Gleaner article, he noted that "where we thought Calabash was weak, we are trying to improve it." As such, the Asante Adonai Lyme hopes to include a children's package. I think this is really great, because children's poetry is an area of Caribbean poetry that is often overlooked. Children do appreciate poetry, and the earlier it is introduced, the better.

Other literary events that are being organized to fill the Calabash void include the Jamaica Poetry Festival, which is being organized by Jamaican poet Yasus Afari, on August 14, 2011 at the Louise Bennett Garden Theatre. Local poets such as Joan Andrea Hutchinson, Mutabaruka, Michael Abrahams, Viv Morris Brown, and Royal African Soldiers will be in performance, as well as international poets.

Jamaica's south coast, which benefitted from Calabash since its inception, will also host the Treasure Beach Breadbasket Festival, which will include the Talking Trees Fiesta, from May 27-29.

So, while we regret that the Calabash International Literary Festival is no more, I am pleased to see that local poets and poetry lovers in Jamaica are keeping Caribbean poetry alive and vibrant with these new literary events. If you can attend or contribute in any other way, please do, whether it's through blogging, tweeting, attending, or financial support. Also, if you have a literary event that you are hosting, please let me know, and I would be very happy to spread the word about it.

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