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Alliouagana Festival of the Word Opens November 14

by Cathy Buffonge

Montserrat’s Alliouagana Festival of the Word is just around the corner, and all are encouraged to check it out. The Festival will run from Thursday November 14 to Sunday November 17, and as usual it promises to be an exciting weekend.
On the Thursday morning there’s the primary schools Book Parade, organized by the Ministry of Education with two of the visiting authors speaking to the children at the end of the Parade. They are Miami-based Montserratian journalist and author Edwin Martin, and Toronto-based Jamaican author, Olive Senior, both of whom also feature in the Festival events at the weekend.
On the Thursday evening there is the launch of the MVO’s exhibition “Disaster Passed?”, an exciting and innovative walk-in booth full of information and electronic representations about the volcanic activity and how it’s affected the island. This will remain open until Saturday afternoon, when it will be moved to the Community College in time for the “Word Up” event. Several calypsonians will also perform volcano related songs.
The Arrow memorial lecture will also be presented Thursday evening. This year’s lecturer is Dr Clarice Barnes who will speak on the topic “The Chance Pond Mermaid and Diamond Snake Meme: contending issues in gathering our volcano stories”. This promises to be an
interesting topic. The Thursday, Friday and Saturday sessions will all take place at the Cultural Centre.
On the Friday morning visiting authors will speak with students at the various schools including MSS and the Community College. The Friday evening features the official opening of the Festival, along with the launch of three new books.
The Saturday will feature sessions by two more visiting authors on some challenging topics on race and lingering inequality, as well as a presentation on West Indian builders of the Panama Canal. In the afternoon there will be the prize giving for the MVO creative writing
competition, always a nice occasion as the children read what they have written. This will be followed by the spelling and reading competitions, sponsored by publishers Harper Collins. Antiguan bookseller Barbara Arindell, a very faithful supporter of the Literary
Festival, will coordinate.
The evening will see the annual “Word Up” at the Community College, featuring informal performances by students and other young people, always a popular event, together with the MVO’s interactive volcano exhibition, which will remain there for the rest of the week.
The Sunday sessions will be held at the MVO and will feature a session on Montserrat’s heroes and legends by Edwin Martin, discussing the massive contributions by three recently deceased Montserratians who contributed to the island in many different ways.
Also on Sunday there will be a video discussing reparations, a topic which ties in with some of Saturday’s sessions, and one of a musical by famous Caribbean writer Derek Walcott on the history of the steel pan. The history of Africa will also be in focus. The entire programme is coordinated as always by committed UWI Open Campus head Gracelyn Cassell.
All of the sessions at the Alliouagana Festival are free of charge. The visiting resource persons are only here for the weekend and it’s a privilege and a unique opportunity to hear what they have to say.