Tag Archives: Caribbean literary festivals

Literary Festivals of the Caribbean (Updated)

The original Literary Arts Festivals of the Caribbean post dates back to 2014. This is a revamp with some additions and will list only festivals active at the time of this posting to the best of our knowledge.

literary_festival2_290Antigua and Barbuda’s literary festival activities have been fractured – from the Antigua and Barbuda International Literary Festival which was one of the first in the region when it started in 2006 as the Caribbean International Literary Festival (it didn’t last) to a community effort that resulted in the Wadadli Stories one day activity in 2017 (that proved to be a one-off). There is a Literacy Day on the Ministry of Education calendar (status unknown at 2021 update) and literary limes like Expressions Open Mic (currently on break), Soothe, the Just Write Writers Retreat (also on break), Spilling Ink Poetry in the Park (status unknown). There have also been literary arts showcases (of sorts, on and off) in recent Independence programmes, but a funded lit arts festival on par with ABILF, no. And for the future, who knows?

Caribbean-based Events

VI Lit Fest panel

Anguilla –

Anguilla Lit Fest

Barbados –

BIM Lit Fest

British Virgin Islands –

BVI Literary Festival

Cayman Islands –


Cuba –

Havana International Book Fair

Dominica –

Nature Island Literary Festival

Guadeloupe –

Congress of Caribbean Writers

Montserrat –

Alliouagana Literary Festival

Jamaica –

Calabash International Literary Festival

Kingston Book Festival

Two Seasons Talking Trees Literary Fiesta

St. Lucia –

Nobel Laureate Week

St. Martin –

St. Martin Book Fair

Trinidad and Tobago –

Bocas Lit Fest

United States Virgin Islands –

United States Virgin Islands Literary Festival and Book Fair

Events based outside of the Caribbean

MJ_Bocas Lit Fest_NALIS_20140425291


Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival

Califest – Caribbean Literary Festival

Miami Book Fair’s Read Caribbean program

If there’s a Caribbean literary arts festival that you feel has been overlooked, please send me the information at wadadlipen at gmail dot com

Images in this post are top to bottom from the Antigua and Barbuda International Literary Festival 2007 (featuring Donna Hill, Verna Wilkins, Dawne Allette, and Victoria Christopher Murray), the USVI Lit Fest and Book Fair 2015 (Sharon Millar, Tiphanie Yanique, Gillian Royes, and Joanne C. Hillhouse), and Bocas in Trinidad 2014 (A-dZiko Simba Gegele, Joanne C. Hillhouse, and Colleen Smith-Dennis).

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). All Rights Reserved. Subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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St. Martin Book Fair Feted in the Regional and International Press

This release from House of Nehesi Publishers references regional and international media coverage of the St. Martin book  fair which I participated in 2015


Remember this school visit during my time in St. Martin where I introduced the students and festival attendees to my book Musical Youth?

and subsequently wrote about for the January 2016 edition of Writer’s Digest.

GREAT BAY, St. Martin (February 14, 2016)—The St. Martin Book Fair, slated for
mid-2016, is already being profiled in the USA and Caribbean media.

“Readers and authors will be gathering in the Caribbean for the 14th annual St.
Martin Book Fair, scheduled for June 2 through 4,” according to New York Daily News.

The “popular book fair” is a “multifaceted … multimedia … marketplace” that
connects “St. Martin and the Caribbean through workshops, seminars and other
activities,” wrote Jared McCallister, the newspaper’s “Caribbean Beat” columnist.

Before the Daily News became the first news media to announce the 2016 book
fair date in its January 31 edition, the island’s literary fest was being “talked about” in
Trinidad, said Jacqueline Sample, president of House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP).

In the Guardian of Trinidad & Tobago, award-winning author Loretta Klobah
“credits … literary festivals like the Bocas, Jamaica’s Calabash and St. Martin’s Book
Fair” as forming “an important network base” for the growing literary connectivity and
the continued desire for regional unity in the Caribbean.

The article, “The write of retreating” by Simon Lee, appeared in the Guardian
edition of January 28 – reporting on the North Coast Writing Retreat, which convened a
power-pack of authors in Trinidad in January.

In its January edition, the US-based Writer’s Digest is actually encouraging its
mega-readership to, “Plan your next vacation around … Caribbean literary festivals, and
enrich your writing life island-style.”

Listed as one of its cover stories, the article by the busy Antiguan writer Joanne
Hillhouse features five literary festivals: Anguilla Lit Fest, Trinidad’s Bocas Lit Fest,
Jamaica’s Calabash Literary Festival, Dominica’s Nature Island Literary Festival, and the
St. Martin Book Fair.

“Run by a cadre of energetic young volunteers,” writes Hillhouse about the
Friendly Island’s festival, “the event facilitates real bonding and a relaxed pace, save for
the busier singular book fair day, Saturday at the University of St. Martin, which has a
packed schedule of sales and signings.”

“Dr. Loretta Klobah and Joanne Hillhouse are exciting writers. Each was a hit at
one or two activities of previous Book Fair editions,” said St. Martin Book Fair
coordinator Shujah Reiph. “I’m very happy and thankful that both writers are sharing
their St. Martin experiences near and far.”

The St. Martin Book Fair 2016 has as its theme: “The Science of It,” said Reiph.
The Book Fair Committee (BFC) is “planning an exciting 14th anniversary literary
festival for the entire family. I think the BFC is a hit with our guest authors from around
the world. The committee is the same energetic cadre Joanne mentions in Writer’s
Digest,” said Reiph. A photo of BFC members accompanies the Daily News story.

Recently, “The St. Maarten Tourist Bureau and the Médiathèque Territoriale
received a gift of books for their public or reference library collections from HNP and the
book fair organization,” said Sample. The multilingual sets of books included titles
published by HNP and books by guest authors of St. Martin Book Fair, said Sample.


Patrick Javois (R), Médiathèque head, receiving a “gift of books” from Clarintje Kopra, St. Martin Book Fair Committee member, at the Médiathèque Territoriale last Friday.

The island-wide book fair alternates its opening ceremony between both capitals
of the island. This year the South will host the opening of the festival, said Reiph, who is
also president of Conscious Lyrics Foundation (CLF).

Conscious Lyrics Foundation and House of Nehesi Publishers organize the St.
Martin Book Fair in collaboration with the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau, University of St.
Martin (USM), LC Fleming Foundation, and St. Martin Tourist Office.

And since WordPress is messing with me, you can read the original release minus the screwy formatting here: OESnews16-BF16_1

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Literary Festivals of the Caribbean

This is just a listing – some of these I’ve been to, some not; just sharing all the ones of which I’m aware. You can also read my round-up of Caribbean literary festivals – published January 2016 in Writers’ Digest – here.

AnguillaThe Anguilla Lit Fest – a Literary Jollification was held for the first time in May 2012 and attracted none less than bestselling author Terry McMillan and Antigua and Barbuda’s own Marie Elena John. Here are some pictures and links from my participation in 2015.

with students at the Anguilla Lit Fest (photo by Barbara Arrindell)

With students who came out for my panel at the Anguilla Lit Fest, 2015. These are among students there studying my first book The Boy from Willow Bend which is on the schools’ reading list in Anguilla.

Antigua and Barbuda – The Antigua and Barbuda International Literary Festival started in November 2006 – Here’s a post I did about the first year of the festival  – but has been on hiatus for several years.

ABILF 2010 - Copy

Me, under the children’s tent at the 2010 ABILF, reading from Ashley Bryan’s Dancing Granny, the same story the kids dramatize in my book Musical Youth.

Barbados – Bim Literary Festival and Book Fair, held in May, first took place in 2012. Visit their website for updates. Here are some images and memories I shared from my participation in the BIM Lit Fest in 2016.


Participants in the 2016 BIM Lit Fest: front row, left to right, Olive Senior, A-dZiko Gegele, Selma James, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, Tanya Shirley, and Evan Marshall (son of Paule Marshall who was there to collect a lifetime achievement award on her behalf). Middle row, left to right, me (Joanne C. Hillhouse), Mrs. Foster, and Esther Phillips; back row, Cecil Foster, Bernice McFadden, and Mervyn Morris.

Cayman Islands – Gimistory is the Cayman Islands International Storytelling Festival; read more on it here.

CubaThe Havana International Book Fair is typically held in February. Here’s a BBC Review

Dominica – The Nature Island Literary Festival was started by Alwyn Bully in 2007. It’s held each August. I had the opportunity to attend in 2012 and wrote this. Check their facebook  or festival website  for updates.


With Adrian Green of Barbados at the Nature Island Literary Festival.

GuadeloupeCongress of Caribbean Writers is held in April. I participated and blogged about it in 2013.  Like Bocas, there is a literary prize attached.


Reading before Caribbean writers and readers during the Congress of Caribbean Writers in Guadeloupe in 2013.

Jamaica – The Calabash International Literary Festival at Treasure Beach in St. Elizabeth was started in 2001. I was part of a group of Antiguan and Barbudan writers that attended the May festival in 2007 with backing from the Commonwealth Foundation and the mood of the event was appreciated by us all. I shared the experience here.
NPR review & Guardian UK review

Calabash pic

From left, S E James, me (Joanne C. Hillhouse), Akilah, Brenda Lee, Caryl Philips (British author of St. Kitts descent), and Marie Elena John.

It should be noted as well that Jamaica has several other festivals such as the International Storytelling Conference and Festival, the Two Seasons Talking Trees Literary Fiesta, and the Kingston Book Festival – the latter, a project of the Book Industry Association of Jamaica, is held in March. Check their website and facebook for updates.

Montserrat – Alliougana Festival of the Word dates back to 2009. November. Check their website and facebook for updates.

New York – I intended to limit this to festivals taking place in the Caribbean…buuut the Caribbean Cultural Theatre Celebration of the Word rates a mention as does their running series of readings by authors from the region. Here’s its facebook page.

St. Martin/Sint Maarten – St. Martin Book Fair is a project of the Conscious Lyrics Foundation and the House of Nehesi Publishers. I participated in this event in 2014 and shared some images here. See their website and facebook for updates.


One of the things that the St. Martin book fair promotes is engagement with local students; so, here I am engaging.

St. Lucia – In St. Lucia, there are a couple of things – Nobel Laureate Week, which given that the star attraction is the country’s Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott, counts as a literary event and the WordAlive Literary Festival (Adrian Augier on WordAlive).

Trinidad and Tobago – The Bocas Literary Festival, started in 2011, has a major literary prize and a grant for emerging writers attached. In addition to the main festival, there are a couple of regional satellite festivals in other parts of the country including sister island Tobago. Check their website and facebook for updates.
Bocas Review by Annie Paul and my experience here.


It was at Bocas that I collected my Burt Award second place trophy from sponsor of the Burt Award, William Burt – Photo source http://www.bocaslitfest.com/2014/jamaican-author-a-dziko-gegele-wins-the-inaugural-burt-award-for-caribbean-literature/

V I Literary Festival – The Festival has been held every year since 2015, the year I attended, at the University of the Virgin Islands.


At the VI Lit Fest with Jamaica Kincaid and Opal Palmer Adisa.

Beyond the Caribbean – there are, of course, many, many festivals beyond the Caribbean; this link points to some of the ones in the North American area, and specifically the ones with a strong, though not exclusive, African-American fan base – such as the Brooklyn Book Fair which I attended in 2015.


My panel with, far right, Tanwi Nadini Islam, Matthew McGevna, and Ian Maloney. Shout out to Antiguan designer Miranda Askie for outfitting me for this trip.

You can see others that I have participated in here  and, of course, when it comes to searching for festivals in your area, google is your friend.

If there’s a Caribbean festival that you feel has been overlooked, please send me the information at jhohadli@gmail.com …but be polite, no oversights are intentional.

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com,except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Fish Outta Water, Musical Youth, and forthcoming With Grace). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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Antigua and Barbuda International Literary Festival coming back

I don’t have a lot of information on this as yet, but as one of the region’s earlier literary festivals (started in 2006), I’m glad to see that the Antigua and Barbuda International Literary Festival [ABILF] is on its way back with November 9th to 11th 2012 given as the festival dates.

A notice at the site says: “We are currently finalising the 2012 programme of events. Please check back soon for a full listing.”

I’ll keep you posted as well. But you can also keep checking their website and their facebook page.


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