The 2017 Virgin Islands Literary Festival and Book Fair will honor its founder, Dr. Simon Jones-Hendrickson, as part of its 3rd annual event. Dr. Jones-Hendrickson, a former dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Science at the University of the Virgin Islands, is being recognized for his vision in launching the festival on St. Croix, setting the foundation for making it a premiere annual event, drawing local, regional and national audiences. The festival will also pay tribute to Nobel Prize Winner Derek Walcott, who is also a member The Caribbean Writer’s editorial advisory board.
Full admission to the fair is $150, which includes the opening reception and ‘meet and greet’ with the writers, the Book Bacchanal in Frederiksted, and admission to all workshops and presentations. Day passes or single workshop passes are also available at $50 and $20, respectively. Discounted fares are offered to teachers, and exhibition booths for the Book Fair are $50. Interested persons may register and pay online at www.usvilitfest.com or follow the VI Lit Fest on Facebook.
The VI Lit Fest 2017 keynote speaker is Emmy award-winning poet, actor, editor, critic and musician Kwame Dawes, who will speak to the festival theme: “New Vistas: An Evolving Caribbean.”
The School Writers’ Soirée, sponsored by the V.I. Department of Education’s Division of Cultural Education, will kick off the Pre Lit Fest activity on April 19 in UVI’s Great Hall. New York Times best-selling author Bernice McFadden will address an audience of both public and private school students on the topic: “Using Your Experiences to Color Your Story.” Award-winning author, calypso writer and aficionado Dorbrene O’Marde will also conduct a workshop on writing calypso music. In addition, a national publisher will take the students through the steps of publishing their own book. The School Writers’ Soirée is free and open to the public.
This year’s theme, “New Vistas: An Evolving Caribbean, 100 Years of the U.S. Virgin Islands” will resonate throughout the fair, with several featured speakers discussing the evolving Caribbean through the literary world. New York Times best-selling authors will make presentations in schools to faculty on teaching Caribbean and V.I. literature to their students. Among the authors going into the schools will be award-winning V.I. authors Tiphanie Yanique and Tobias Buckell.
On Thursday evening, the annual meet and greet reception will be held at Government House. Entertainment will include readings by famous Caribbean author Earl Lovelace. The audience will also be treated to a literary interpretation in dance by the Caribbean Dance Company.
Deynote speaker Kwame Dawes will deliver his address at 9 a.m. Friday, April 21, followed by a question and answer period. Workshops that day will feature other prize-winning authors. Our now famous Book Bacchanal, held in partnership with Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts, will fire up the Frederiksted waterfront with cariso, moko jumbies, quadrille, author readings and open mic poetry.
On April 22, the Bush Tea Morning Social will begin at 8:30 a.m. with a local breakfast and the music of a nationally-recognized Virgin Islands singer/musician accompanied by an up and coming, talented (still a secret) young Virgin Islander. Immediately following the social will be a plenary session that will include a panel discussion on Caribbean Literature with authors Kwame Dawes, Achy Obejas, Earl Lovelace and Bernice McFadden. Dawes, Obejas and McFadden will also touch on their experiences confronting difficult truths about their lives and cultures.
In recognition of the Centennial of the USVI, a section of each day’s program is dedicated to V.I. authors. All Virgin Islands authors are encouraged to submit the title(s) of their book(s), the date of publication and a brief blurb to firstname.lastname@example.org if they wish to participate in the Virgin Islands Authors’ Round Table.
The festival is sponsored in part by the V.I. Department of Tourism, The Buccaneer, Caravelle Hotel and Casino, Caribbean Museum and Center for the Arts, Innovative, the V.I. Department of Education’s Division of Culture, Tropical Shipping, KDM Enterprises, the University of the Virgin Islands, UVI’s Research and Technology Park, Cooperative Extension Services, V.I. Caribbean Cultural Center, and The Caribbean Writer.