The Calabash International Literary Festival Trust
2a Bamboo Avenue #4
The Calabash International Literary Festival was founded in 2001 by novelist Colin Channer with the support of two friends, the poet Kwame Dawes and the producer Justine Henzell. Their aim was simple—to create a world-class literary festival with roots in Jamaica and branches reaching out into the wider world.
A three-day festival of readings and music with other forms of storytelling folded in the mix, Calabash is earthy, inspirational, daring and diverse. It’s the only annual international literary festival in the English-speaking Caribbean. All festival events are free and open to the public. Passion is the only price of entry. But voluntary contributions are accepted.
The festival is produced by the Calabash International Literary Festival Trust (the Trust), which also produces publishing seminars and writing workshops. The Trust is affiliated with the Friends of the Calabash International Literary Festival, a registered 501(c)(3) corporation in the United States.
" ... Calabash is a high-grade international event in which writing from the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia forms a thought-provoking mosaic of story, history and mythology."
The Independent on Sunday
" ... one of the most vibrant literary festivals to come around in a long time."
The Associated Press
"Calabash is far and away the best literary festival I've ever attended or participated in. Never mind the incredible beauty of the place overlooking the Caribbean, the family atmosphere, the music, the great international mix of poets and storytellers, and the disciplined organization of the people running things—the Calabash audiences are huge and welcoming, and the writers get to use the best sound system they'll ever read through again."
Russell Banks, novelist
"Simply put, Calabash is the most significant festival of artists of the African Diaspora, and it goes forth in the spirit and ethos of joy and generosity."
Elizabeth Alexander, poet
"Calabash turned out to be one of the most invigorating and emotionally empowering events of my writing life."
Kaylie Jones, novelist
"Calabash is a unique literary festival, the only one of its kind in the Caribbean, with an impressive range of local and international writers. I am very happy that I accepted an invitation to recite at Calabash 2005. The large audience was very receptive and my reading will remain a treasured memory. The sun, the sea, the music, the food, the ambience, the readings—it was very rewarding."
Linton Kwesi Johnson, poet
“Calabash is a serious literary festival with serious literary merits. It combines this with good humour and merriment.”
Times Literary Supplement
“… a mini-Woodstock on the Caribbean … a world-class Caribbean literary festival … ”
The New York Times
“A yearly get-together of some of the world’s best authors reading their most important works.”
Fox News Magazine
“… the Calabash International Literary Festival has earned a reputation for celebrating excellence in literature.”
The Jamaica Daily Gleaner
“The atmosphere at the festival [is] something to treasure.”
The Jamaica Observer
"Calabash is the sort of literary festival to whom the label “literary festival” applies only because there’s no neat phrase for “reggae-fied, rootsy-intellectual, interdisciplinary extravaganza for those who worship words, abhor pretension and believe that ‘smart’and ‘fun’ need not be mutually exclusive." "Calabash is, in a nutshell, all that's right with Jamaica"
- Wall Street Journal June 6 2010
"So Much Things to Say, an anthology of poems read at the festival over its first decade, is a who’s who of international contemporary poetry"
- The Daily Beast, June 2010
“Grandmothers in flowing gowns dance with girls in busty T-shirts. Novelist Bernice McFadden embraces a fan and bursts into tears. Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka toasts the crowd with a glass of Jamaican Red Stripe, and the crowd — 3,000 strong, ranging from taxi drivers to college professors — erupts with joy. This is a literary festival?”
“In its 10th triumphal year, Calabash is one of the most improbable, beloved, literary-musical-human -gatherings in the world.”
- Boston Globe, Dec 2010