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The Caribbean--a sea of letters

Bevan Springer | 5/2/2012, 7:02 p.m.
Jamaica's Butch Stewart picks Almond in Barbados

NEW YORK (April 5, 2012)--Jamaica and Anguilla will each host Caribbean literature festivals over the next two months--Kingston Pon Di River this month and the recently announced Anguilla Lit Fest set for the British dependency in May.

April 27 to 29, the Kingston Pon Di River literature, music and art festival will start with a with an open mic session and dance party at the new Kingston entertainment hot spot, Studio 38, followed by African and Caribbean drumming ensembles the following day at Boone Hall Oasis in Stony Hill.

On Sunday, April 29, audiences can appreciate a mix of local and overseas talent, including singer Karen Gibson Roc; publisher Alvin Day; dub poet Oku Onuora; singer and songwriter Diana King; New York Times best-selling author Jonathan Eig; photographer Baron Wolman, of Rolling Stone magazine fame; award-winning novelist Charlie Newton; and professor Carolyn Cooper, author and literary scholar. The day closes with music by Bare Essentials and a huge bonfire to light up the night's sky.

A fun family event, Kingston Pon Di River features a kiddies' village, riverside massages, food and arts and crafts.

Dennis Morrison, chairman of the Jamaica Tourist Board, said literature and music festivals like Kingston Pon Di River could ignite interest among urban-oriented tourists, as well as offer a taste of culture to lovers of heritage and the arts.

"Heritage tourism is a multibillion-dollar subsector of the broader global tourism industry. Kingston has the raw materials of history and talent on our side. Now we've got to tap into that big time, as the spin-off benefits and industries could help grow our economy," said Morrison.

Local journalist Janet Silvera, managing partner of festival organizers Dynamic Events Services, said Kingston Pon Di River is a one-of-a-kind experience, stimulating interest in the arts, especially among youth, as an avenue both for self-expression and future careers.

Meanwhile, Anguilla is getting excited about its own first annual Anguilla Lit Fest, "A Literary Jollification," from May 24 to 28 under the distinguished patronage of Terry McMillan, professor, screenwriter, editor and award-winning author.

Joining McMillan for this occasion will be American author Randall Robinson, who now resides on St. Kitts; actress and author Sheryl Lee Ralph; Malaika Adero of Atria Books; Lasana Sekou, poet, author and publisher of House of Nehesi Publishers in St. Maarten; David Carty, Anguillian historian, filmmaker and author; and Antiguan author Marie-Elena John.

The Anguilla Lit Fest celebrates the island's literary heritage while increasing visitor arrivals during the low season.

Special packages for the event are being offered by Anguilla's leading accommodations, including Paradise Cove Resort's "Lit Talk Anguilla"; CuisinArt Golf Resort and Spa's "Invitation to Exhale with Terry McMillan"; Little Butterfly's "Lit Talk Anguilla"; and the Anacaona Boutique Hotel's "Book Binder Girls Getaway" package.