Calabash International Literary Festival 2005: ‘The Fire Is Lit’ on Jamaica’s South Coast

An International Lineup of Writers, Musicians and Poets Assemble in Jamaica

KINGSTON, Jamaica, March 31 /PRNewswire/ — The Calabash International Literary Festival in Jamaica, now in its fifth year, has officially solidified itself as a major international literary event, on the heels of a rousing success in 2004. Scheduled for Memorial Day weekend, May 27-29, Calabash is billed as the Caribbean’s hottest and coolest literary event, a claim supported by the cover story feature in the March/April 2005 issue of Poets and Writers. Calabash 2005 will take place at Jake’s, an understated elegant South Coast resort that embodies Caribbean chic. Offering three days and nights of readings and music from Jamaica and beyond, Calabash is free and open to the public.

A Literary Mission

The mission of the Calabash International Literary Festival Trust is to transform the literary arts in the Caribbean by being the region’s best- managed producer of workshops, seminars and performances. The organization is able to do this through strategic partnerships, media relationships and government support. However, perhaps the single most important reason is because Calabash is steadily becoming the festival of choice for the world’s most gifted authors. Calabash is supported locally in the weeks leading up to the festival with a series of workshops, seminars and film showing/screenings, all geared towards promoting the arts. Chapbooks for six of the workshop participants have been created and designed by Ricardo Leme Lopes from Brazil under the direction of Colin Channer, the Founder and Artistic Director of Calabash.

Following in its tradition of reviving historic works of Jamaican literature, the Calabash Trust has reissued Voices Under the Window, a Jamaican classic written in 1955 by John Hearne. This novel embodied the emerging sense of nationalism in Jamaica and a people’s collective desire for independence. Special guest readers include Oliver Clarke, Chairman of the Gleaner Company Limited, and Perry Henzell, writer and director of The Harder They Come, who will be reading passages on Sunday, May 29, honoring the 50th anniversary of the novel.

An International Collaboration of Artists

A legendary lineup of poets, writers and musicians from around the world have been assembled for Calabash 2005, laying the groundwork to make it the most successful year yet. Representative performers include Dionne Brand, one of Canada’s most important poets and fiction writers; Russell Banks, a giant of American literature; Andrea Levy winner of the Orange and Whitbread prizes from the UK; as well as a special poet ensemble composed of Amiri Baraka (USA) and Linton Kwesi Johnson (UK). Additional artists from Guatemala, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, Mali, Indonesia, India, Trinidad, Tobago and Dominica will also be performing and introducing attendees to works of literature from around the world. For a full schedule of events as well as respective biographies about each performer, visit the Calabash Literary Festival Web page at http://www.calabashfestival.org/.

In addition, Krist Novoselic, the bassist from revolutionary rock-band Nirvana has been added to the bill. He will be participating in a reading on Sunday afternoon along with a few other authors from Akashic Books, an independent publisher in Brooklyn, N.Y., specializing in urban literary fiction and political nonfiction.

The Influence of Reggae

Saturday, May 28 marks the return of the Calabashment concert, a four-hour concert featuring reggae with some of the most popular artists around, including “Lloyd Parkes and We the People.” A special tribute will mark the ten-year and 25-year anniversaries, respectively, of the deaths of Delroy Wilson and Jacob Miller — two legends of reggae.

A special literary performance has been devoted to paying homage to the lyrics of “the last icon of Jamaican music” — Jimmy Cliff. The segment, slated for the afternoon of May 29, continues the Calabash tradition of a retrospective about the artistic contributions of legendary Jamaican musicians, such as Bob Marley and Peter Tosh who were each honored in previous festivals.

About Jamaica Tourist Board

The Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), founded in 1955, is Jamaica’s national tourism agency based in the capital city of Kingston. Currently celebrating its 50th anniversary, the Board is responsible for the worldwide tourism marketing and promotion for the island country of Jamaica. The JTB’s mandate has been to promote Jamaica as a preferred travel destination, identify new and emerging consumer groups, cultivate new relationships with travel partners and disseminate timely and useful marketing information to its offices and travel partners worldwide. JTB offices are located in Jamaica, Miami, Toronto and London. Representative offices are located in Dusseldorf, Barcelona, Rome, Amsterdam and Tokyo.

Details of upcoming special events, attractions and accommodations in Jamaica are posted on the Jamaica Tourist Board’s Web site at http://www.visitjamaica.com/. JTB can be reached toll-free at 1-800-233-4JTB (1-800-233-4582).

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