Festival of the Word in Montserrat

Baroness Floella Benjamin is this year’s special patron.


BaronessSALEM, Montserrat – An unique annual literary festival will be held in Montserrat in November.

The event is spearheaded by the Open Campus of the University of the West Indies under the leadership of Gracelyn Cassell, head of the Open Campus in Montserrat.

Alliouagana Festival of the Word, named after the historic Amerindian name for Montserrat, runs from Nov. 12 to 15, with this year’s theme Volcanic Dust: Journeys and Connections to commemorate the twelfth anniversary of Montserrat’s volcanic activity.

Special patron this year is Baroness Floella Benjamin. The festival takes place at the Cultural Centre at Little Bay.

The baroness is a Caribbean icon. Originally from Trinidad but living in the U.K. since age 10, she has undertaken a host of charitable and media projects in Great Britain, making a difference to the lives of children. She has been a stage and screen actress, TV presenter and producer and written several children’s books.

A film based on her latest book Coming to England documents her experiences as a West Indian child left behind in Trinidad will be shown at the end of the festival on the Sunday evening.

The festival starts on the Thursday evening with a lecture in the Alphonsus “Arrow” Cassell memorial lecture series by Dr. Aldrin Sweeney, associate professor at Ross University Medical School in Dominica.

The official opening ceremony will be on the Friday evening and will include the introduction of authors and presenters. Guest performer Trinidadian calypsonian Short Pants will perform, as well as giving a session on calypso writing later in the festival.

Saturday and Sunday will feature several distinguished Montserrat writers and thinkers. Jeremy Pointing of Peepal Tree Press will talk on Getting Published.

Tony Eprile, a South African writer who explores the impact of racial tensions on everyday life, will present his book Memory Loss and Tourist Attractions while Keith Taylor (husband of Baroness Floella) will speak on “a career in film and television.”

A popular informal event is the prize giving for the MVO creative writing competition, with the children (and adults this year) reading their winning entries. There will also be the ever-popular Book Lovers’ Parade where children wear costumes depicting a character from a favourite book.

A special new event will be Word Up, a showcase with spoken word, lyrics, poetry, freestyle artists and readings. While the main festival events will be at the Cultural Centre, Word Up will be at the Lyme in Brades.

For more information visit ww