Montserrat’s Literary Festival marks its tenth anniversary this month


By Cathy Buffonge
Caribbean News Now contributor

BRADES, Montserrat — Once again, it’s time for Montserrat’s Literary Festival, which is scheduled for November 15 to 18, and marks its tenth anniversary this year. The Alliouagana Festival of the Word is called after Montserrat’s original Amerindian name, Alliouagana or land of the prickly bush.

This year’s Festival has as its theme “Understanding Legacies, Celebrating Achievements, Embracing Tomorrow”. It is organized every year, by the University of the West Indies (UWI) local Open Campus, under the leadership of its head, Gracelyn Cassell.

As last year, the Campus will be collaborating with the ministry of education in mounting this event, and school activities will include visits to schools by the guest authors, and a street book parade where children will dress up as characters from story books. Later on there will be spelling and reading competitions for children, sponsored by publishers Harper Collins and Best of Books in Antigua.

As usual the Festival proper kicks off with the annual lecture in memory of Montserrat’s singing star Alphonsus “Arrow” Cassell. This year’s lecturer is Jamaican author and cultural scholar Professor Carolyn Cooper, who will speak on the topic “Making work: capital investments in the creative/ cultural industries”. This promises to be an interesting evening.

At the opening ceremony there will be a lecture by this year’s patron of the Festival, the vice chancellor of UWI, Sir Hilary Beckles. His thought-provoking topic will be “What next for Caribbean people?” Two new books will be launched at the opening, including one by distinguished local historian and poet, Professor Sir Howard Fergus.

Over the weekend there will be a host of interesting topics related to the theme, such as “Walcott and legacies of colonialism”, “Colonial winds of Irma”, “Our African world then and now”, and “Impacts of slavery on Montserrat” among others. Discussion will be an important part of these sessions.

As usual the youth will be involved, with the “Word Up” event at the Community College, where young people will be at the forefront in presenting their writings and taking part in discussions.

A-dZiko Simba Gegele will again be coming down for the Festival, and will take part in Word Up with video clips/ “Black Matters” as well as doing a pre-festival children’s story telling workshop.

The Festival, as usual, promises to be a fascinating and enriching event, and all are invited to come and listen and/or take part in the various sessions.



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