It was four magical days of illuminating discussions and inspiring presentations hosted by some of the world’s most distinguished and celebrated literary treasures, all set against a backdrop of one of the Caribbean’s most coveted islands. This was the scene for Anguilla’s first annual Lit Fest 2012: A Literary Jollification!
Home to vanilla hued buttery soft sand beaches and seductive waters in shades that defy imagination the unparalleled island of Anguilla served as the scenic host for a festival that empowered, educated and enlightened literary enthusiasts seeking wisdom and knowledge surrounding the world of publishing, arts and literature.
Headlining the conference was world renowned author Terry McMillan, creator of critically acclaimed works such as Waiting to Exhale, and How Stella Got Her Groove Back, both bestselling books that later became box office smash hits. McMillan’s inspiring master classes “So You Want to be A Bestselling Author,” and “Honing Your Gift” both received rave reviews by the festival’s impressionable attendee’s who were enthralled by the author’s honest delivery and captivating presence. “Write as if your work will not get published,” states McMillan, her words mesmerizing the crowd. “This way you use your true voice when telling a story.”
Insightful creative workshops were hosted by political activist and writer Randall Robinson, including “From Inspiration to Publication,” and the impactful “We are One: Writing about the Diaspora.” The author lamented “it is of paramount importance to know your history; as you’re education starts long before you go to school.” Both workshops were widely received and praised amongst all within earshot of his stimulating words and eloquent delivery.
Powerful panels were also delivered by the likes of famed New York Times bestselling author and CSI star Hill Harper, acclaimed veteran of film, television and Broadway and original diva, who is from Jamaica, Sheryl Lee Ralph, and entertainment lawyer turned writer and author of Inspirations, Profiles of Black Women Changing Our World Crystal McCrary. Featured notable speakers included Newsweek journalist and author of What Would Michelle Do?, Allison Samuels, owner of Hueman Books, Marva Allen, Senior Editor at Atria books, Malaika Adero, and Award winning, Canadian based fiction writer Mary W. Walters (The Whole Clove Diet). Distinguished Caribbean writers included Amy Berkower, publisher Lasana M. Sekou, Antiguan author Marie-Élena John, editor/ author Stephanie Stokes Oliver, and local poets Patricia J. and Dwayne L. Adams.
Amongst the energizing presentations and panels, guests also enjoyed an impactful lecture from local Anguillan and cinematographer David Carty, creator of “Nuttin Bafflin,” a story about the history, theory, and practice of boat racing. The book, which was later made into a critically acclaimed documentary, lends fascinating insight into a unique national pastime that is central to the rich Anguillan culture and history. Carty, a well-known boat builder and historian spoke about the legacy and history behind the national sport of boat racing while guests indulged in palate pleasing hors d’oeuvres served up by the gracious staff at da’vida restaurant.
Recognizing the ever-significant role of literacy, the ministry and department of education embarked on an island – wide campaign to foster an appreciation for reading. It was through this desire that birthed an idea that, with the help of the Anguilla Tourist board, set in motion an unprecedented event for the island, one that would stoke the flames of literary aspirations within the youth of Anguilla. “Meeting the students of Anguilla has filled me with such hope, they embody such a desire to learn,” adds actor Hill Harper. “I’m thrilled that my participation in the inaugural literary festival will help continue to fuel the youth of Anguilla’s passion for literacy.”
The Anguilla Literary festival also promoted tourism for the region, as well as adding a thunderous jolt of excitement and creative energy on the island. Guests traveling from New York, the Carolinas, Florida, Canada and beyond all converged to partake in the festive Memorial–day weekend event. “The first Anguilla literary festival undoubtedly helped tourism on the island as it showed that we have a lot more than just the sun, sand and beaches, but that there is a deep intellectual capacity present,” adds Hon. Haydn Hughes, Parliamentary secretary responsible for tourism. “We are home to some of the most highly regarded hotels in the world, and we are known as the culinary capital of the Caribbean, so hosting a literary festival of this magnitude is indicative of the Anguilla spirit and I have no doubts that next year’s festival will be bigger and better.”
We Are Anguilla
The striking and peerless island of Anguilla offers a culturally enriching Caribbean experience and upholds its coveted footprint as a premier destination for international travelers. The island flaunts a wide variety of exciting and adventurous activities coupled with the seeping pride and heritage that shapes the warm hospitality that permeates each Anguillan host. Nicknamed “Rainbow City,” the Anguilla sky paints the perfect canvas for the most intense rainbows featuring a fascinating mosaic of colors, and is home to over 33 beaches boasting voluptuous swells of blue waters spanning hues of turquoise, navy, marine, aqua, and teal. As the celebrated cuisine capital of the Caribbean, Anguilla boasts more than 100 restaurants ranging in a multitude of cuisines and tastes. Accommodations in Anguilla range from beautifully-appointed distinguished properties and visually stunning villas, to quaint bed & breakfast outposts and award-winning, five-star resorts. The island can be easily accessed by air or sea from the Princess Juliana International Airport in St. Maarten, which offers non-stop and direct service from a growing number of U.S. cities via Jet Blue, Air France, United Airlines, BVI, Delta, Air Canada and American Airlines; as well as from San Juan Puerto Rico via Anguilla Air Express and Cape air, making Anguilla the perfect, most desired escape in the Eastern Caribbean. For more information on travel to Anguilla, visit www.ivisitanguilla.com, Like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Anguilla, or Follow us on Twitter: @anguillatourism or contact the Anguilla Tourist Board at 1.800.553.4939.
The Anguilla Tourist Board (ATB) is responsible for the development and management of the island’s tourism industry, charged with the promotion of tourist travel, and the establishment, maintenance and improvement of high standards of product and service quality in the tourism sector. Working in tandem with its overseas Marketing Representatives in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, Scandinavia, Puerto Rico and South America, the board promotes Anguilla as the Caribbean’s premier, exclusive, quality destination experience, where “feeling is believing.”