Calabash International Literary Festival


This year, the 9th Annual Calabash International Literary Festival will bring together an extraordinary mix of new and celebrated writers from around the world for the most anticipated annual literary event in the Caribbean region.

CalabashThe three-day festival, free and open to the public, will take place on May 22nd – 24th, at Jake’s, in Treasure Beach on Jamaica’s South Coast. Featuring spirited readings of prose and poetry, and exciting musical performances, the festival is designed this year with the theme “Peace & Love”.

“Jamaica is proud to provide the sponsorship for the prestigious Calabash Literary Festival and once again showcase this part of our country both figuratively and literally,” commented John Lynch, Director of the Jamaica Tourist Board. “Hosting some of the world’s greatest literary talent in Jamaica is an honour for not only me, but for the South Coast region and the country. Jamaica is on the literary world-stage thanks to the participation of the great authors and poets that have given their imaginations to us year after year.”

Truly international, Calabash has grown dramatically since its inception eight years ago, attracting writers from around the globe. Calabash has consistently delivered inspirational performances by both well-known and new writers, and by great musicians, in programmes of spoken poetry, readings from novels, thought-provoking discussion, and music.

A highlight this year will be Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Junot Diaz who will join Edwidge Danticat for “Two the Hard Way”, the opening night reading. Another must-see event will be the iconic independent filmmaker Melvin Van Peeples and public intellectual George Lamming in a frank discussion of passion, faith and masculinity in the 21st century. Titled “Love in the Time of Obama,” the discussion will be moderated by Calabash co-founder Kwame Dawes.

One of the highlights of the festival is expected to be the reading “Three Jamaicas” which will feature memoirs by former Prime Minister Edward Seaga, controversial poet and performance artist Staceyann Chin, and risqué novelist Anthony Winkler. Biographer Patrick French, whose biography of Nobel Laureate V.S. Naipaul won the 2008 National Book Critic’s Circle Award, will appear on the reading “Life Sentence.”

Asked to pick a reading for people who’ve never been to the festival before, Festival Artistic Director and Founder Colin Channer chose “Bi-textuals’, which will feature authors who work in two forms—novelist and memoirist Terese Svoboda, poet and novelist Geoffrey Philp, and novelist and memoirist Xu Xi.

Calabash 2009 will also feature a 50th anniversary reading of E.R Braithwaite’s classic novel To Sir With Love and a screening of the loosely autobiographical film Confessions of a Ex-Doofus-Itchyfooted Mutha by Melvin Van Peebles, which will also be available at the festival in the form of a graphic novel published by Akashic Books.

Detailed information, biographies, and a schedule of events are available at



  1. Kay-Ann Pinnock on


    I am desirous of performing an original dub floetry piece entitled “Jamaican Ghetto Mentality” that was performed at the Kingston and St. Andrew Festival Queen Coronation on May 17. Is there an open mic section that can accommodate that need? If so, what day and time is allotted for open mic?

  2. The Arbuturian on

    Dear Kay-Ann,

    Thanks for your comment.

    Please contact the festival directly to get the information you require. They can be contacted via the festival website; the web address is in the article above.

    Best wishes,
    The Arbuturian

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