Guided by its mission to promote and celebrate Caribbean literature and culture to the greater metropolis, the 3-day Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival concluded last weekend with an all-day, outdoor extravaganza of performances, book/poetry readings, performances, panel- discussions and children’s activities.
Held at the accessible and multi-functional Plaza at 300 Ashland in downtown Brooklyn, this event, similar to all of the festival’s previous events, featured a beautiful and balanced representation of the three major language groups found in the Caribbean.
According to Marsha Massiah, the festival’s main coordinator, one of the major aims of the festival was to avoid the unintentional exclusion of the Spanish and French-speaking countries which often plagues other Caribbean initiatives.
“The Caribbean does not only comprise of the English-speaking West Indies, and there are numerous similarities to our individual cultures that transcends the language barrier and it’s these commonalities that the BCLF desires to explore, enjoy and share with the rest of the world,” Massiah said.
This final-day event followed the previous night’s extremely successful “Evening with Jamaica Kincaid” at the Brooklyn Historical Society, which celebrated the internationally-acclaimed St. Lucian author in front of hundreds of her adoring fans. This sold-out event not only featured tribute readings by carefully selected personalities, but also readings by Kincaid herself, and was beautifully tied together by conversation with host Attillah Springer, a Trinidad born essayist, who has written and curated content for television, print, radio and digital.
In the event’s aftermath, Kincaid was visibly moved and touched by the outpouring of love and admiration. “They are all here to see me?” said an emotional Kincaid. She was wowed at the sold-out crowd before her.
The festival was well-received by attendees, and some of the guest authors themselves wrote odes to the festival organizers in the aftermath. Roger Bonair-Agard described it as, “Well curated, intimate, events that managed to hit all the right atmospheric and ideological notes for a festival of this kind. Brilliant. Throw all your money at them for next year.”
Award-winning authors, Kevin Adonis Browne, and Kei Miller, both echoed these sentiments in special tributes to the festival’s organizers via Facebook posts attributing to the great organization, presentation and the space provided, that was an opportunity for Caribbean people here in New York to ‘declare our right,’ tell stories and show love.