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Calabash 2005

Press Release

For immediate release

Justine Henzell
876-382-6777 (phone) 876-965-0552 (fax) (email)

The Caribbean's hottest (and coolest) literary festival celebrates its 5th Anniversary. Calabash 2005 set for Jakes, May 27 - 29.

[March 11,2005 - Montego Bay] Novelists Russell Banks (USA), Dionne Brand (Canada) and Andrea Levy (UK) will lead a stellar list of global artist~ in the fields of literature and music at the 2005 Calabash International Literary Festival. The festival will take place over three days, from Friday, May 27 to Sunday, May 29, at Jake's in Treasure Beach.

Featured poets will include Amiri Baraka (USA) Linton Kwesi Johnson (UK), Li-Young Lee (Indonesia), Meena Alexander (India) and Roger Bonair-Agard (Trinidad & Tobago). Lovers of autobiographies will have a special treat this year - a reading of memoirs by filmmaker Manthia Diawara (Mali), novelist Diane Abu-Jaber (Jordan) and director Yvonne Brewster (Jamaica).

The theme for this year is "The fire is Lit!" - a tribute to literature's ability to ignite passion, bring illumination and spark change. Many things about the festival have changed. But some very important things have remained the same.

"Five years is a major milestone for us," says festival programmer Kwame Dawes. "It is really gratifying to know that we are still fresh and relevant after all this time, that we haven't grown stale.

We set out to be the festival choice for the world's most gifted authors when we started out in 2001 and we've worked very hard to bring that vision into being. Calabash was earthy, inspirational, daring and diverse when we started out in 2001 and we are the same today - only bigger and better, and more committed to celebrating the best characteristics of Jamaica and the best writing from Jamaica and the rest of the world in unexpected ways."

"Kwame Dawes is the Tony Matterhorn of literature," says Colin Channer, the festival's founder and artistic director. "When it comes to books and authors, I can't think of anybody who can cut and mix and juggle and select on par with him. So he is one pillar of our success. But Kwame and I would both agree that the most important pillar of our team is our producer and general manager Justine Henzell, who is an operational genius. Because of her, Calabash delivers the kind of experience that you'd get at an expensive event. Because of her, everything is in its place. Everything happens in its time. Because of her, we have earned an international reputation as one of the best-managed festivals around."

Special highlights of Calabash 2005 will include a reading from the Special Calabash 50th Anniversary Edition of John Hearne's classic novel Voices Under the Window, which had fallen out of print, and an exploration of the lyrics of reggae icon Jimmy Cliff.

Participants in the Voices reading will include Oliver Clarke, Chairman of the Gleaner Company, Limited, and actress and broadcaster Fae Ellington. Guitar masters Wayne Armond and Ernie Ranglin will lead an acoustic quartet on a journey through the craft of Jimmy Cliff.

After a one-year absence, the Calabashment concert will make a splashy return on the festival's second night. To mark the 10th anniversary of the death of singer Delroy Wilson, Lloyd Parks and The We the People band will support some of Wilson's colleagues from the rock steady days in a four-hour tribute under the summer stars.

Calabash 2005 will be free and open to the public, continuing the unbroken tradition that goes back to is founding in 2001. At Calabash passion is the only price of entry.

Calabash 2005 will mark the festival's second venture into publishing. In a joint initiative with British publisher Peepal Tree, the festival will launch a special Calabash International Literary Festival 50th Anniversary Edition of the late Jamaican writer John Hearne's classic novel Voices Under the Window, which had fallen out of print. Last year, Calabash reissued another novel, Brother Man by the late Jamaican writer Roger Mais.

The festival is also launching its signature chapbook series this year. The inaugural Calabash Chapbook Series will consist of six books of poems by members of the Calabash Writers Workshop - Blakka Ellis, Ishion Hutchinson, Mbala, Niki Johnson, Saffron and Andrew Stone. Like the new edition of Voices Under The Window, the chapbooks were designed pro bono by Marcos Leme Lopes and Ricardo Leme Lopes, who live and work in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

"I am very proud of what we've been able to accomplish," says Channer. "We were the cover story of the Marchi April issue of Poets & Writers, America's most influential magazine for writers and people interested in the writing life. There was a seven-page feature inside. While I read the piece I took myself out of the picture and just read it as a Jamaican yute. And here's what came to mind - this is the greatest little festival in the greatest little district in the greatest little country in the world."

Authors who have appeared at Calabash in previous years include: John Edgar Wideman, bell hooks, Louis Simpson Junot Diaz, Sonia Sanchez, Jean Binta Breeze, Z.Z. Packer, Elizabeth Nunez, Earl Lovelace, Mark McMorrig, Oonya Kempadoo, China Mieville, Roger Guenveur Smith, Pauline Melville, Cornelius Eady, Toi Derricotte, Harryette Mullen, Patricia Powell, Marcos McPeek Villato, Ernesto Quinones, Nelly Rosario, Trevor Rhone, Claudia Rankine, Saul Williams, Mutabaruka, Oku anura, Willie Perdomo, Jan Carew, Kalamu ya Salaam, Ruth Forman, Meryvn Morris, Erna Brodber, Anthony Winkler, Amanda Jones and Nikky Finney.

The festival is produced by the Calabash International Literary Festival Trust, a registered non-profit organization under the laws of Jamaica. In addition to the festival, the Trust will produce four (4) publishing seminars (Saturday, April 23) and screen eight (8) films in a Sunday morning film series (April 3 - May 24). The dates of the next set of writing workshops will be announced in the coming weeks.

The Calabash International Literary Festival is supported by DFID, the CHASE Fund, The Jamaica Tourist Board, Jake's, American Airlines, Peter Bunting and Dehring, Bunting & Golding Merchant Bank, Wisynco Trading, Wray & Nephew and Super Plus Foodstores.




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