Two writers with Dominican roots, are among presenters at this year’s Nature Island Literary Festival and Book Fair (NILF) carded for August 9 – 11 at the University of the West Indies Open Campus.
Chairman of the NILF Committee, Dr. Alwin Bully, announced at the July 15 launch of the event, that this year’s festival will be paying tribute to renowned Martiniquan writer and thinker, Aime Cesaire, as part of the celebrations taking place in many countries to mark the 100 Anniversary of his birth.
Cesaire, who died in 2008, was known internationally as the father of Negritude, a term used to define pan-African Black consciousness the objective of which, was to bring pride and self esteem to African people and their descendants based their achievements, history and culture.
Dominicans, Jane Ulysses Grell and Whitney Greenaway, who are carded to present at the festival, both grew up in Dominica where they received some level of education before migrating.
Ulysses Grell is originally from the eastern village of Delices.
She received her secondary education at the Convent High School, and her tertiary education in the USA, England and France. She then settled in England where she taught for several years until her retirement.
During the early stage of her teaching career, Grell began using oral storytelling to help develop children’s literacy skills and subsequently, began writing and performing her own work.
In the 1990’s, she was seconded to the BBC School Radio to work in an advisory capacity on the multi-cultural content of its output.
Grell has written and presented stories for school programs, and has conducted several workshops for teachers and students on “writing and story-telling”. In June 2013, she launched a new book of poems, “Praise Songs”.
Whitney Greenaway, another writer, although born in Florida, is of Dominican parentage and
spent her tender years on the island, where she received both primary and secondary school education.
She is a very popular, award-winning, Slam poet and credits the development of her poetry skills to her grandmother in Dominica, who did not allow Greenaway to watch any television when she lived with her.
As a result, she read a lot, learning new ideas and vocabulary and began experimenting with poem writing which she used as an outlet.
When she returned to the US as a teenager, Greenaway’s poetry career took off.
Later, she began taking part in Slam poetry competitions, and has showcased her work throughout New York. She placed 6th at the Women of the World Poetry Slam in 2012.
Presenters at the festival will also include Dr. Alex Gil, a Caribbeanist scholar whose work explores the building of Caribbean cultural history through digital means; Phillip Murray, aka Black sage, of Trinidad whose speciality is composing and singing calypsos extemporaneously; St. Lucian director, producer, song writer and lobbyist for the performing arts, Adrien Augier, and Dorbrene O’marde from Antigua.
Also in the festival line up are Vonnie Roudette of Caribbean and British Parentage and Phillip Nanton a Vincentian who is a Poet, Short story writer, dramatist, and producer of several radio documentaries.
Reseau Poetique de la Guadeloupe, a vibrant and energetic group will be returning after they delighted many with their singing, dancing, and drumming last year.
Dominican Historian Dr. Lennox Honeychurch has had a captive audience each year as he presents through the use of power point, slides and film, aspects of Dominica’s literary landscape. He will be on again this year.
Excerpts will be read from the work of Alick Lazare and Dr Justin Fadipe will read from his poetry collection.
Also expected to perform are The Portsmouth Secondary School’s Choral Speech Club budding poets and a Spanish club dance group from the Dominica State College, a group of young emerging poets, and others who have been working with Shauna Johnson presenting their lessons called “Lyrics Under The Stars”.
According to organizers, a major change in the event will be the staging of the Sunday afternoon programme on Mero Beach where The Black Sage, three-time Extempo Calypso King of Trinidad and Tobago and Whitney Greenaway will perform. Patrons of Sunday’s activity will also be exposed to the calypso lyrics of Ian Jackson a.k.a The Black Star Liner.
This activity is being organized in collaboration with the Mero Enhancement Committee who will put on a Mero Lime After-Party to bring down the curtains on the festival.
NILF Chairman, Dr. Bully said the tag-line for the 2013 festival, “Read for (A) Change” is tied to the event’s objective of familiarizing Dominicans and others with Cesaire’s work and “the world-changing results of the words and actions of this close neighbor of ours.”