January 17, 2011 — Kingston, Jamaica
After ten very successful years of mounting the largest literary festival in the Caribbean, the organizers of the Calabash International Literary Festival announced today that the Calabash International Literary Festival is over in its present incarnation.
The announcement was made on Monday evening at a Press Conference at Red Bones in Kingston.
According to Artistic Director and founder of the Festival, Colin Channer, 2010 winner of the Silver Musgrave Medal for his contribution to arts in Jamaica, “We had a fantastic run and the festival effectively accomplished what it set out to do ten years ago, which is to produce a world class, professionally run literary festival in Jamaica. Calabash has garnered a great deal of attention for Jamaica and the legacy of this exciting event will never be diminished.”
Calabash was a unique festival in that it remained free and open to the public for its full duration. Each year at the end of May, thousands of people would travel to Treasure Beach in St. Elizabeth to enjoy great literature, great books, excellent food, remarkable music, and a positive vibe. The venue for the Festival was the Jakes Resort one of the major sponsors of the Festival.
Over the years, Calabash received sponsorship and support from the Jamaica Tourist Board, the CHASE Fund, the US State Department and major business entities in Jamaica including Wisynco Trading, DB&G, American Airlines, Air Jamaica and FLOW Jamaica.
Producing Director, Justine Henzell noted, “I wish to thank our sponsors many of who have supported Calabash from its inception and stuck with the festival through challenging economic times for their dedication to “the little festival that could”. We are very proud of the gift that together we were able to give to Jamaica.”
Among over one hundred writers attending this festival over the years were Nobel laureates, Derek Walcott and Wole Soyinka, and authors Robert Pinsky, Russell Banks, Natasha Tretheway, Junot Diaz, Edwidge Danticat, and Linton Kwesi Johnson.
The Calabash International Literary Trust will continue its commitment to the support of the literary arts in Jamaica through its workshop and seminar series and other literary events. The three central figures at the head of the festival, Justine Henzell, Kwame Dawes and Colin Channer, each of whom have volunteered their time and energy for the ten years in this labor of love, have pledged to continue to contribute to the advancing of the arts in Jamaica.
“There is no question that we will miss the gathering each year, but ten years is a long time, and we believe that our little festival has offered a model of what is possible in Jamaica, today,” said Kwame Dawes, programming director of the festival.