Calabash wheels…and promises to come again…

Calabash International Literary Festival Comes to an End

Wole Soyinka being interviewed by Paul Holdengräber at Calabash International Literary Festival

Well, the news of the moment is that Jamaica’s beloved Calabash International Literary Festival is no more. At a press conference this evening Calabash Programme Director, Kwame Dawes, announced the demise of the festival saying that Calabash, in its ‘present incarnation’ had come to an end and would not be held this year.

The plan is to regroup and return in a new avatar in 2012, Dawes said. 2012 is also the fiftieth anniversary of Jamaica’s independence and the new event will focus on celebrating fifty years of literary production in Jamaica.

Colin Channer, the leonine writer who has been the motive force behind the festival, is also no longer part of the core group. No reasons were given for his departure, with Dawes merely remarking that Channer’s decision was ‘mysterious’. Channer had been the artistic director of Calabash since its inception.

A valued Twitter source sent a message offering Channer’s perspective: Just talk to Channer, Man seh 10 year as the head is enough& anything longer would be a sign that something is wrong that it can’t grow beyond him

Calabash Literary Festival 2007
Colin Channer (l) posing with the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (First Book) finalists in 2007. Photo: Georgia Popplewell

The constant challenge of raising funding each year and drawing on personal resources has also taken its toll of the three principals behind the festival.

This is a brief post to give you the breaking news…a more detailed post will follow in the next few days. See my posts on earlier Calabashes below:

Calabash Ho! (single entendre please–)

Walcott on Naipaul

‘Bad Words’ at Calabash 09

Post-Calabash Glow: Vintage 10