The Return Of Calabash: A Literary Gem On The Rock

And just like that! From Friday, May 26 to Sunday, May 28, the picturesque coastal town of Treasure Beach in St Elizabeth played host to the much-loved literary extravaganza, Calabash.

The biennial event, returning from a five-year hiatus, transformed Jakes Hotel in Treasure Beach into a hub of creativity, attracting renowned poets and authors for a series of literary sessions for its 15th iteration. With the added allure of signed copies of books, cosy accommodations, delectable local fare, and retail therapy, the festival became a weekend getaway for the books!

The range of literary talent included: Indian-born American author, Emmy-nominated producer, television host and food expert Padma Lakshmi; Jamaican-born, British-based dub poet and activist Linton Kwesi Johnson; Peepal Tree publisher, founder and managing editor Jeremy Poynting; New York Times best-selling British-American writer and photographer Taiye Selasi, and more, each contributing their unique perspective to the event.

Additionally, as is customary, a Kingston Bookshop outlet was thoughtfully set up on-site, allowing attendees access to an extensive collection of literary works. Enthusiastic readers eagerly awaited the chance to meet their favourite authors and have their books personalised. This added an extra layer of intimacy to the event, creating lasting memories for all involved.

And, as one would expect, the charm of Calabash extended beyond the literary events. Both locals and tourists embraced the opportunity to transform their visit into a memorable getaway. Treasure Beach, the consummate host, accommodated its visitors with a variety of options, ranging from luxurious villas to rustic-chic properties.

For many, a festival high point was the appearance of American actress, filmmaker, and humanitarian Angelina Jolie on Saturday afternoon which elevated the entire affair. The multi-award-winning actress sat for a reading session and then proceeded to the Kingston Bookshop store to purchase a few books.

Entertainers who wrapped each day of events included reggae singer and deejay Tanya Stephens, recording artiste Imeru Tafari, reggae artiste Ras-I, actor and dub poet Sheldon Shepherd as well as DJs Anash and Chromatic Live – HeavyD and Ariez. A Third World musical tribute led by founding member Ibo Cooper got patrons to their feet.

The fusion of literature, music and the St Elizabeth rustic beauty made for a weekend to remember. Treasure Beach, forever etched as a haven for literature and art, will eagerly await the return of this celebration of the written word.

SO gives you a 'read'.

Photos: Collin Reid, Gareth Cobran

New York Times best-selling novelist Taiye Selasi took the attendees on a very emotional journey with a reading from her book, Ghana Must Go. Collin Reid
Justine Henzell (left), co-founder of Calabash International Literary Festival, and her daughter Drew Brennan tuned in for a reading.Collin Reid
Joseph A Matalon and his wife Bernadette were also in attendance at the literary festival. Collin Reid
Fashion designer and principal of Keneea Linton Designs Keneea Linton-George (right) secured a signed copy of Love After Love from featured author, Trinidadian-born Ingrid Persaud.Collin Reid
Professor Balaganapathi Devarakonda (right) is a huge fan of Kevin Jared Hosein's Hungry Ghosts. Collin Reid
Nadine Rawlins, managing director of RAW Management Ltd, recited a poem Riddym Ravings by Jean "Binta" Breeze. Collin Reid
American actress, film-maker, and humanitarian Angelina Jolie (centre) was right in the midst of British actress Sarita Choudhury (left) and Indian-born television host Padma Lakshmi, during a poem reading by Jamaican poet Kei Miller.Gareth Cobran
American actress Angelina Jolie and Jamaican dub-poet and radio personality Mutabaruka.
Stush In The Bush principals Chris and Lisa Binns made it a weekend getaway to St Bess.Collin Reid
Local recording artiste Tessellated and principal of Haveli Mina Robertson made a stylish appearance on day two of Calabash.Collin Reid
Director of tourism at the Jamaica Tourist Board Donovan White (left) and Calabash co-founder Kwame Dawes stopped for a snap. Collin Reid
Calabash was a total delight for Dr LauraJan Obermuller. Collin Reid
Stylist and creative director Tamo Ennis complemented her orange 'fit with silver shoes and a handbag from Telfar. Collin Reid
Biomedical librarian at the NIH Library at the National Institutes of Health, music producer Dera Tompkins was spotted at Calabash.Collin Reid
It was a picture-perfect moment with American actress, film-maker, and humanitarian Angelina Jolie (second right), for (from left) Tribe Nine Studios principal Troy Oraine Williamson; British rapper and poet Akala; and Chanelle Newman, artiste manager.Courtesy of Troy Oraine Williamson
Dub poet and actor Sheldon Shepherd was flanked by Callaloo Butik owner Charlotte Wallace (left), who wore a Callaloo Stella Dress in Ankara print, and patissier Barbara Massey of Tartine European Café in San Diego. .
Dr Sonjah Stanley Niaah, senior lecturer in Cultural Studies at The University of the West Indies, Mona, was not going to miss Calabash. .
Sandra Samuels, CEO and master barber at Totally Male, was stylish as ever at the seaside by Jakes Hotel. .
Elizabeth Montano, author and mother of soca star Machel Montano, showed off a copy of King of Soca, the debut publication from her imprint.
[USE AS INSET]Elizabeth Montano, author and mother of Machel, showed off a copy of King of Soca..
Peepal Tree publisher, founder and managing editor Jeremy Poynting (centre) and Jamaican-born, British-based dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson (right) engaged in a conversation about poetry during the session 'Reasoning' with Calabash International Literary Festival co-director Kwame Dawes. Collin Reid
Esteemed publisher Margaret Busby joined Calabash International Literary Festival co-director Kwame Dawes for a reading. Twenty-five years after her publication of the landmark anthology Daughters of Africa, Busby returned with the companion work New Daughters of Africa, featuring 200 emerging and established writers.Collin Reid

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