THOMAS, UNITED VIRGIN ISLANDS — During Women’s History Month, the first Virgin Islands Literary Festival and Book Fair (VILitFest) highlighting literacy, local authors, and world literature at schools and the Golden Grove Correctional Facility, will take place from March 26 to 29. Local and regional award-winning authors, editors and publishers to be featured, include Virgin Islander Tiphanie Yanique, Jamaica Kincaid and Malaika Adero.
“Embracing Literacy for Life,” this year’s theme will be experienced all around the isle of St. Croix before, during and after the fair, especially on Thursday, March 26, in The Great Hall on the Albert A. Sheen campus of the University of the Virgin Islands. The Festival’s opening will provide an opportunity for festival-goers to meet with organizers, sponsors, scholars and the vast list of authors.
Featured writers will visit the local prison and schools to discuss their work and the importance of literacy. School children are also invited to attend various events in order to participate in workshops and interact directly with the authors, according to Stephanie Nugent-Hanlon, VILitFest webmaster, journalist and writer by trade and education.
The Caribbean Dance Company will perform a dance interpretation of Marvin Williams’ “Heirs,” the UVI Steel Band Ensemble will entertain, and “The Skin,” a film written and produced by Howard Allen, will have its debut.
St. Thomas-born fiction writer and winner of the 2014 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize for her novel “Land of Love and Drowning,” Tiphanie Yanique, will share about her award-winning book. Described as “a love letter to the Virgin Islands, both the land and spirit of the place,” in the Los Angeles Review of Books it chronicles the saga of a St. Thomas family through three generations from 1916 to 1970.
Currently a professor at the University of the Virgin Islands, editor, university lecturer, communications consultant and small business owner, Jamaican-born Gillian Royes, is also one of the featured presenters.
“A veteran of the book publishing industry for 30 plus years,” said Malaika Adero, introducing herself as an independent publishing consultant, editor and writer who will also be featured and participating in one of the panels. In a phone interview, she expressed her perspective of the importance of storytelling to all forms of presentation in various genres. According to Adero, her cultural events magazine, HomeSliceMagazine.com is, “a space for me to share with you the new and provocative ideas, art and culture I hear about — sometimes in advance—from my role as an artist, cultural worker and in the book publishing industry.”
On the Saturday evening, a ‘Book Bacchanal’ featuring cultural performances, book signings and a Poetry Slam will be held. Author and biographer of legendary Crucian writer and activist Hubert Harrison, Jeffrey Perry will deliver the keynote address as well as make a presentation.
On Sunday, March 29, led by National Park Superintendent Joel Tutein, participants will be treated to a literary island tour beginning in the Christiansted Historic District and ending at the Frederiksted Fort.
The event is being hosted by the University of the Virgin Islands College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. Sponsors include the VI Department of Tourism, Innovative Companies and The Caribbean Writer. For more information, visit the official website or its Spanish version.