During the last week of July and the first week of August, Dominica celebrates its emancipation from slavery. A part of this celebration is the Nature Island Literary Festival. This 3-day event brings some of the most talented authors, poets, storytellers, and artists of the Caribbean and the Dominica Diaspora to perform, inform, discuss, and highlight Caribbean culture, history, and oral traditions through the written word. I have participated in many literary festivals, but this one consistently offers a wider variety of literary platforms with more diversity amongst its presenters plus its totally free event. The theme for the fourth annual festival was “Hooked on Books”. I believe this theme sends a powerful message about the need to make reading an addiction, to make learning an essential part of life and giving young people an opportunity to witness the skilled authors and poets within the region.
Five of the highlights for me are the comical MC Franklyn Moses who never leaves his crowd with a frown; the calyposian King Karessah with an in depth discussion on the meaning and value of calypso music, the morning workshop Issues and Concerns which looked at the influence on the spoken word in both the Caribbean and America; and Trinidadian poet Keegan Maharaj powerful and conscience spoken word to call participants to wake up, take a stand and be truthful throughout the land; and a poem performed by students of the Grand Bay Secondary School that focused on gang violence in the schools and made a strong call for students to really think about what they are dying for. Overall the variety of artists and the full day agenda caused no room for boredom. There were poets, singers, children book authors, open mic calls, literature experts offering there critics, discussion, storytellers, and issues that made you aware.
Each year the festival continues to raise the bar for the quality of presenters and the diversity of literary genres presented. Also, the festival always hosts a book fair in conjunction to the festival. This year the Festival committee had several Book exchanges to basically promote reading by bring a book and then exchanging it for another book. These book exchange initiatives help to create more awareness about the festival and again the need to get hooked on books. I truly give my sincere thanks to the members of the committee that put in countless hours to make this truly one of the best literary festivals of the Caribbean. I am never disappointed in this festival and look forward to returning next August to play apart in the 5th Annual Nature Island Literary Festival. To see the complete list of presenters check out http://www.dominicalitfest.com/.