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Anguilla stages first lit fest

Bevan Springer | 9/5/2012, 6:27 p.m.
NEW YORK (July 26, 2012)--My recent travels took me to the British dependency of Anguilla...
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NEW YORK (July 26, 2012)--My recent travels took me to the British dependency of Anguilla to witness the first ever Anguilla Lit Fest, which assembled literary luminaries from Hill Harper, Terry McMillan and Randall Robinson to the Caribbean's Marie-Elena John, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Lasana Sekou and David Carty.

It was my second visit to Anguilla. The first was several years earlier, for another special event, the Anguilla Tranquility Jazz Festival, during my consulting days with the now-defunct BET Jazz and then BET J.

Anguilla remains a blessed Caribbean paradise with some of the region's most beautiful beaches. The island is mainly accessible through puddle jumpers from San Juan or, in my case, a half-hour boat ride from neighboring St. Maarten in the Dutch Caribbean.

Hats off to the Anguilla Tourist Board and its inventive team of event planners for their vision in creating the Lit Fest, which promises to grow from strength to strength with the rich caliber of authors who attended this year's hastily yet successfully produced event.

While the festival's agenda was a bit heavy for the passive literary patron, for those who were more passionate about learning from the pros, this event was close to perfection. With the majority of sessions held under tents on both the outdoor lawn and a peaceful poolside setting at the Paradise Cove Hotel, creative local, regional and international presenters shared their passions and pointers and inspired attendees.

In between sessions, I hopped into a rental car to explore the island and was impressed by the cleanliness of the natural environment and, in particular, a local tennis program that focused on cultivating the gifts, talents and abilities of the island's young people.

Anguilla is a worthwhile haven for anyone who wants a break from the stresses of life, and along with authentically Caribbean dining experiences, the accommodations are excellent and the island features some of the region's finest resorts and villas. One such property is the Ultimacy Villa retreat, run by Anguillans Sherille and Frankie Hughes, who also own Paradise Cove.

The spirit of entrepreneurship is alive and well in Anguilla, with a significantly high number of locals who own their own homes and enterprises. Despite tensions between the local government and Mother England, Anguillans are busily charting their own destinies in a positive, proud and productive manner.

Make a visit soon!