Entertainment

Calabash was amazing — Henzell

BY RICHARD JOHNSON Observer senior reporter

Tuesday, June 03, 2014    

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"AMAZING!" That's the word director of the Calabash Literary Festival Justine Henzell utters repeatedly as she describes the event which took place in Treasure Beach, St Elizabeth, on the weekend.

"This year was really great. We had an amazing calibre of writers and everyone brought such strong material and presented on such a diverse range of topics. When you look at what happened on Friday night — our first night — with four writers taking to the stage: Paul Muldoon from Ireland, Rab Wilson, who is Scottish; African-American Major Jackson and Valzhyna Mort from Belarus, how much more diverse can you get, everyone was brilliant," said Henzell.

It is this diversity, she noted, that helped make this year's festival right.

"In designing the programme, diversity is always delibrate, and with this year's theme being 'globalishus' the slate of writers had to be reflected," she told the Jamaica Observer. "That mix of authors and their various points of view went over very well."

Another standout for Henzell was the presentation by celebrated British writer Salman Rushdie.

"He was amazing during his presentation and even revealed the title of his new book. He had an incredible time in Jamaica and at the festival walked throughout the venue and ate in the food court... he had a great time."

The Associated Press quoted Rushdie as saying it is no wonder that Calabash has steadily earned a name as a festival of choice for some of the world's most gifted authors.

"It is an extraordinary event. The audience is big, extremely appreciative, very focused. And the setting is spectacular," he told The Associated Press on Sunday, a day after he took to the stage to discuss his writings and career in front of an eager, diverse crowd of a few thousand people.

Reflecting, Henzell is pondering whether or not the programme for Saturday is a bit too long. It is something she will have to look at for 2016.

"Saturday seemed like a little too long a day. After all, we start from 10:00 am and go on until 2:00 am. Maybe I'm getting old, but its something we'll have to examine," she said.

No date has yet been set for the next staging of the biennial event, but already Henzell said she has received e-mails from aspiring attendants.

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