“I am very happy to be coming to Calabash as I have heard good things about the festival and have many Jamaican friends,” says the St. Lucian born playwright and poet. “I consider myself an honorary Jamaican.”
Walcott will be reading from his work and discussing his life and career with Ghanaian-Jamaican poet and playwright Kwame Dawes at 12 noon on Saturday, May 24th.
“Any opportunity to speak to one of the most important poets in the twentieth century is a gift that only a fool would allow to pass,” says Dawes, a resident of South Carolina and a recent recipient of that state’s Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts. “Derek Walcott is always interesting and inevitably brilliant, when he talks about art, the Caribbean and what it means to be alive.”
Walcott leads a strong international contingent of poets at this year’s festival, which will also feature Pulitzer Prize winners Yusuf Komunyaaka and Natasha Thetheway (United States), Chris Abani (Nigeria), Jackie Kay (Scotland) and Valzhyna Mort (Belarus).
The strong international flavor is also there in fiction. Fiction writers for Calabash 08 include Gerard Donovan (Ireland), Juan de Recacoechea (Bolivia), Achy Obejas (Cuba), Lawrence Hill (Canada)
Jamaican Literary Presence
“We must never forget that Calabash is an international literary festival that takes place in Jamaica,” says Dawes, who is also the festival’s programmer. “This year we have an incredibly strong contingent of Jamaican writers, the best we’ve ever had in a single year. We’re talking about Lorna Goodison, Beverley Manley and Rosie Stone reading from their new memoirs. We’re talking about Margaret Cezair-Thompson, Erna Brodber and Beverley East reading from their new novels. We’re talking about Kei Miller reading from his new collection of poems. We’re also talking about Thomas Glave, reading from and discussing his new anthology of lesbian and gay writing from across the Caribbean.
The festival will also feature a 75th anniversary reading of Claude McKay’s classic novel Banana Bottom by some of the best dramatic voices in Jamaica—Eddie Baugh, Barbara Gloudon, Denise Hunt and Lloyd Reckord.
Perry Henzell’s New Film
The festival is adding to the storytelling mix with a screening of the director’s cut of the late Perry Henzell’s second feature No Place Like Home. An experimental film that differs sharply from Henzell’s action-packed first feature The Harder They Come, No Place Like Home is a dreamy look at Jamaica in the late 70s as seen by American television producer (Susan O’Meara) who hires a local taxi driver (Carl Bradshaw) to help her pursue an American actress who has abandoned a commercial shoot.
Chalice, Rootz Underground and Bob Andy
Calabash wouldn’t be Calabash without the Midnight Ravers beach party on Friday evening and the Calabashment concert on Saturday night. This year, Squeeze will spin hits from the 70s and 80s at Midnight Ravers, and Rootz Underground will open for Chalice at Calabashment. On Sunday afternoon, singer/songwriter Bob Andy will perform a semi-acoustic set of his greatest lyrics with a supporting cast of Wayne Armond, Ibo Cooper, Seretse Small and Stevie Golding.
Calabash 08 is a production of the Calabash International Literary Festival Trust, a registered non-profit organization under the laws of Jamaica and New York State. Calabash 08 is supported by The CHASE Fund, The Jamaica Tourist Board, Jake’s, American Airlines, The United States Embassy, BNS/Dehring, Bunting & Golding, Macmillan Caribbean, Akashic Books, Wisynco Trading, Red Bull and Super Plus Foodstores.
I will make this one year soon. Maybe next year, but I will make it. That's going to be a real treat. I can't wait to see the photos.
Enjoyed 2008, took my nine year old budding writer along too.Hope the organizers can get Government funding to keep it going, it is extremely important as a creative outlet for my friends and I. Wooing as many friends as I can to come 2009.
Sandra, hope I will see you.
I'll be reading from my new collection of stories, Who's Your Daddy?
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