Logo of the VI Literary Festival and Book Fair 2021

The upcoming VI Literary Festival and Book Fair have been rescheduled to Friday, April 30 through Sunday, May 2, 2021. According to Festival Chair Alscess Lewis-Brown, the event has been pushed back to ensure full engagement from the Caribbean diaspora.”

The University of the Virgin Islands’ international journal The Caribbean Writer together with the Virgin Islands Literary Festival and Book Fair (VI Lit Fest) will host this 7th iteration of the literary celebration under the theme, “Diasporic Rhythms II: Interrogating the Past; Imagining a Future". The festival will begin with Pre LitFest activities aimed at school children held during the morning hours of Friday, April 30 while the main part of the weekend program will be staged Saturday afternoon, May 1 from 1 to 6, and from 1 to 6 pm on Sunday, May 2. The Book Bacchanal where authors can present and discuss their books is also slated for Friday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.  Award-winning authors Edwidge Danticat, Kwame Dawes, Canisia Lubrin, Vladimir Lucien and Jacqueline Bishop will headline the festival along with other internationally recognized and award-winning local and regional authors including Tiphanie Yanique, Rozena Maart, Tobias Buckell, Cadwell Turnbull, Richard Georges and Biko McMillan.

Throughout the three-day festival, these authors will engage in discussions, conduct poetry and writing workshops, as well as offer editing and publishing tips.

Equally significant is that participants will take part in the launch of the 35th edition of The Caribbean Writer, a tribute to Caribbean literary genius and Editorial Advisory Board Member Edward Kamau Brathwaite. According to Program Chair Alscess Lewis-Brown, the issue is part of the collective outpourings of gratitude, remembrances and reminiscence lyricized in musings, tributes, celebrations of his life — a continual repast of ubiquitous reminders of his influence.

Who’s coming:

Edwidge Danticat is a Haitian-American novelist and short story writer. Her first novel, Breath, Eyes, Memory, (1994) and went on to become an Oprah's Book Club selection. Danticat has since written or edited several books and has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors.

Kwame Dawes is the author of twenty-two books of poetry and numerous other books of fiction, criticism, and essays. His collection, Nebraska was published in 2020. He is Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner and teaches at the University of Nebraska and the Pacific MFA Program. He is Director of the African Poetry Book Fund and Artistic Director of the Calabash International Literary Festival. Dawes is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.  His awards include an Emmy, the Forward Poetry Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship and the prestigious Windham Campbell Prize for Poetry. In 2021, Kwame Dawes was named editor of American Life in Poetry. 

Canisa Lubrin is a writer, critic, professor, poet and editor from St. Lucia. She is the author of two collections of poems, “Voodoo Hypothesis” and “The Dyzgraphxst.” She was also a director of the Pivot Reading Series, a biweekly poetry reading series in Toronto, as well as poetry editor at McClelland & Stewart.

Vladimir Lucien is a writer, critic and actor from St. Lucia. His first collection of poetry, “Sounding Ground,” won the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature. His work has been published in The Caribbean Review of Books, Wasafiri, Small Axe, the PN Review, BIM, Caribbean Beat and other journals, as well as a poetry anthology titled, “Beyond Sangre Grande.”

Jacqueline Bishop is a writer, visual artist and photographer. She is a professor at the School of Liberal Studies at New York University.  She is the founder of Calabash, an online journal of Caribbean art and letters, housed at NYU. She is the author of The River's Song (2007), two collections of poems, Fauna (2006) and Snapshots from Istanbul (2009), a 2007 art book entitled Writers Who Paint, Painters Who Write: 3 Three Jamaican Artists (which features the work of Earl McKenzie and Ralph Thompson, as well as her work), and The Gymnast and Other Positions (2015), a collection of short stories, essays and interviews, which won the nonfiction category of the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature (2019).

Rozena Maart is the winner of "The Journey Prize: Best Short Fiction in Canada, 1992," the recipient of the William R. Jones award, a lifetime achievement award for philosophy, and a recent appointee as an International Research Ambassador for the University of Bremen in Germany. She is a scholar and researcher who works between and among Political Philosophy, Black Consciousness, psychoanalysis, Critical Race, Theory and Derridean deconstruction. She joined the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban in 2011.

 Summer Edward is a Trinidadian-American writer, children's editor, educator, literary activist and children's literature specialist based in the US.

Yona Deshommes is President of Riverchild Media, a public relations firm specializing in the promotion of books by and for authors of color. She is a former publicity director at Simon and Schuster publishing.

Lewis-Brown shared that there will also be a “festival secret unveiled in the appearance of an author that has garnered much worldwide acclaim. We guarantee that this author will be a favorite of festival attendees, particularly young men,” she said.

Tickets This year, festival planners have cast a wide net for full community participation; therefore, the sessions are free, according to Program Chair, Alscess Lewis-Brown. However, participants are required to register at www.usvilitfest.com or www.eventbrite.com  

This event would not be possible without the support of several partners.  They include the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism, The University of the Virgin Islands’ College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, The Virgin Islands Department of Education Divisions of Cultural Education as well as Curriculum and Instruction, The VI Lottery, UVI’s Cooperative Extension Service, VIYA, The Virgin Islands Daily News, St Croix Avis, University Bound Program, Island Analytics and Marketing, UVI Research and Technology Park, VIVOT, St. Croix Foundation,  Cane Roots Art Gallery, Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts, Candia Atwater, The Caribbean Writer, the Virgin Islands Writing Society and Pepperpot Press, LLC.

Persons interested in supporting the aims of the VI LitFest may make checks payable to the St. Croix Foundation for Community Development, the third party fiduciary, on behalf of the VI Lit Fest.

For more information, email usvilitfest@gmail.com