Nature Island Literary Festival Showcases Caribbean Authors

The Antigua Observer comments on the goals and highlights of the recent Nature Island Literary Festival (NILF) in Dominica:

The desire to create linkages among our literary artistes was one of the motivating factors driving the recently wrapped Nature Island Literary Festival (NILF) in Dominica. It made a conscious decision, as founder Alwyn Bully explained it, to be a space where primarily Caribbean artistes can come together and where the works of local and regional artistes can be showcased.

[. . .] The event attracted performances by literary elders like George Lamming, the celebrated Barbadian author of In the Castle of My Skin; distinguished Jamaican poet Mervyn Morris; and the Trinidadian born authors of Anna In-Between and Crick Crack, Monkey, Elizabeth Nunez and Merle Hodge, respectively. Newer voices such as Barbados’ Adrian Augier, Trinidad and Tobago’s Roger Bonair-Agard, Antigua and Barbuda’s Joanne C Hillhouse – author of Oh Gad! – and other works. [. . .] The opportunity, the setting, at the UWI Open Campus in Dominica, afforded for these writers to connect, and catch-up was invaluable.

The rain-drenched but never washed out NILF also featured heated discussions on the lyrics in bouyon music and the freedom of the press, a reminder that when it comes to contemporary social concerns sometimes these islands are more alike than they realise.

But, of course, at a literary festival it is all about the words and insights that come with them, as when Morris said, in one of his pieces, “the pain of death is living, the dead are free”; or when Green asserted, “art is a vehicle for programming the culture and behaviour of a people” – a reminder that art communicates with the community and vice versa; or when, in a single reading, Lamming illustrated the different rhythms of language.

It was an opportunity for new voices to emerge, step onto the stage at open mic and bravely engage the audience. It was an opportunity to showcase not only Caribbean perspectives but also perspectives on the Caribbean – a stand out in this regard being Lennox Honychurch’s review of literature mentioning Dominica by visiting writers going all the way back to the earliest days of Columbus’ so-called discovery of the islands and coming forward almost to the present day.

Photo—Lennox Honychurch, distinguished Dominican anthropologist and historian; Honorary Research Fellow of the University of the West Indies Open Campus in Dominica—from

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