Author Kristine Simelda of Dominica Launches ‘A Face in the River’

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Kristine Simelda, American-Dominican author of ‘A Face in the River’

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On Saturday January 23, 2016, I had the pleasure of attending the ‘official’ launch of A Face in the River by American-Dominican author Kristine Simelda. She has lived on the Nature Island for more than 20 years! Dozens of supporters and literary enthusiasts participated in this celebratory event, which was hosted by the fine folks at Romance Café on lovely Mero Beach. During this auspicious occasion, we had the pleasure of listening to Kris read a seasonally-appropriate and highly entertaining chapter from her book, entitled ‘Don’t Stop the Carnival’.

Throughout this beautiful afternoon in Dominica, we also chatted informally with the author,  bought   copies of A Face in the River   and then lined up to have Kris put a personalized note in each one. Under bright sunny skies with a pleasant onshore breeze, we celebrated Kris’s success while we listened to mellow background music provided by superb saxophonist Jussi Paavola.  We

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Renowned local saxophonist Jussi Paavola provided the perfect background sound for author Kris’s (right)enjoyable book launch.

also munched on tasty treats and devoured delicious Caribbean-French infused home-cooked meals at this renowned seaside restaurant.

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Gwendominica was delighted to have author Kristine Simelda sign her personal copy of A Face in the River.

When I got home that evening, I began to read this new novel, set on a lush, beautiful

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Author Kristine Simelda captivated the crowd when she read from her novel, A Face in the River, at her book launch.

Caribbean island.  Over the next two days, I was hardpressed to put it down! I became completely engrossed in the adventures and misfortunes of the protagonist, Krystal Sutherland, a divorced American businesswoman who leaves her comforts behind to follow her heart into  unknown tropical territory.  She quickly discovers that her preconceived notions about ‘life in paradise’ are more than a little off the mark! As an expatriate, I could readily identify with many of the main character’s challenges.  I was also intrigued by the fast-paced twists and turns of the plot and the colourful dialog that really moved the story along.

I  have since electronically linked up with Kris, and in advance of a face-to-face  literary chat in the weeks to come, she has graciously and candidly answered some of my questions about A Face in the River, and more, right here!

Gwendominica:      What/who/where was the inspiration for A Face in the River?

Kristine Simelda: I always say you have to have felt it to write about it. When I was trying to find a publisher who was willing to take a chance on an unknown author writing from a relatively unknown part of the world, I was pitching the book as a fictionalized memoir. No one was interested, so I finally published the book as “a novel” under the ‘River Ridge Press’ imprint, which is the name of my farm. Some folks might recognize certain aspects of the setting and  storyline, and the name of the heroine, Krystal Sutherland, does sound a lot like Kristine Simelda, but beyond that I plead the 5th [amendment]!

Gwendominica: Where did you write it, did you have a particular process, and how long did it take you?

Kristine Simelda: I wrote A Face in the River right here in Dominica, although I had to teach myself to type before I began! I had only written a few snippets of poetry previously, and was so ignorant of the process of writing a novel that I decided to tell Krystal’s story first.  I had so much to say that the original manuscript was 150,000 words long!

When my house burned down in 2000, the original copy went up in flames with it, so I had to start all over again. It took a couple of more years to resurrect the story, during which I managed to get rid of about 50,000 words. Then, while I learned about the craft of writing through workshops and constructive criticism, I edited the manuscript ruthlessly. Finally I was ready to take the next step and publish it as an eBook in 2014.

Gwendominica: How have readers responded to the book?  What kind of reactions are you getting?

Kristine Simelda: Everyone has been very supportive. The general consensus is that it’s a fast read and a great story. I’ve learned a lot [about the writing process] at seminars, by reading other authors’ works (good and bad) and especially from my invaluable editor, Elizabeth Brown.

Gwendominica: Do you think there is a market for ‘tropical fiction’ outside of the tropics?

Kristine Simelda: Most definitely! The First World has become so homogeneous that readers are dying for a taste of the really real world, stories about people and places just like wild, beautiful Dominica. Maybe it’s because I write from the Caribbean, but I feel a there’s a positive  shift  in literature  toward ethnically diverse characters living in far-flung places.

Gwendominica: What was the  biggest challenge in terms of creating this novel?

Kristine Simelda: Technology. I am basically a Stone Age woman. I haven’t had a TV for 25 years, don’t have an IPhone or a Kindle. Believe it or not. I lived without electricity for ten years before I installed solar power five years ago. Before that I ran my laptop from a generator. If it hadn’t been for the cyber gals (Wendy Walsh and Petrea Seaman) at Delphis Ltd, the manuscript for A Face in the River would still be molding in a bottom drawer.

Gwendominica:  What’s next, in terms of your writing plans?

Kristine Simelda: One thing is for sure: I’ll never run out of things to write about while living in Dominica!

I have lots of completed work in the queue, all of which is set in the Caribbean and deals with issues that are close to my heart. In River of Fire, a sequel to A Face in the River, an older and wiser Krystal copes with the fact that the island blows up on the first page due to a volcanic eruption caused by environmental terrorism.  Then she resurfaces as a sage old woman in the novella, Back to the River.

My most recent novel, Nobody Owns the Rainbow focuses on issues of class, love, family, and genetically modified horrors as perpetrated by foreign exploiters. I have also written a young adult novel, Rainforest Rescue, and have enough published short stories for a collection.

Meanwhile, I continue to submit short fiction to publications, revise older work, and wait to win the lottery. I have already begun to formulate novel number four, a romance/ horror narrative where the little gal stands up to the big bad wolf and all his kin.

Gwendominica: What are your other interests, hobbies, occupations?

Kristine Simelda: As a child, I was never much of a reader. My school mates recall a me as a wild and crazy misfit, a bohemian artist. In my middle years, I morphed into a go-girl who rode horses, bicycled around the world, and played a hard game of racquetball.

When I moved to Dominica, I discovered snorkeling and hiking. Then I settled down to farming and breeding large dogs when I landed here in the rainforest. These days, I still have my kayak, and my dogs, but I can’t think of anything more rewarding than settling down with a good book and a glass of wine in the evenings. (Well, maybe I can…)

Gwendominica: As an expatriate, do you have any words of advice for people who are thinking of making a big move to a little  tropical island?

Kristine Simelda: According to the epigraph to A Face in the River: “Consider, my friends, the high price of enchantment.”

Now that readers of Ti Domnik Tales know a little more about this engaging American-

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Now and then, Kris (in pink) enjoys taking a break with her friends at Romance Cafe, on Mero Beach.

Dominican author, you can follow the tropical adventures of her ‘heroine’ Krystal in A Face in the River by getting a paperback or Kindle copy through www.amazon.com  or the visit-dominica website.  The book can be purchased locally in Roseau at Jay’s Bookstore, Kai-K Boutique and Buy Dominica, as well as at Papillote Wilderness Retreat in Trafalgar. Follow her blog at www.kristinesimelda.com

Many thanks to Kris, for candidly sharing some background and personal anecdotes.  I wish you every success with your creations and eagerly await the release of  River of Fire, the sequel to a A Face in the River – and all of your other  forthcoming literary works!

 

 

 

A Feast for my Soul: Indulging in the Nature Island Literary Festival and Book Fair 2013

This year's Literary Festival celebrated renowned Martiniquan  artist, intellectual and politician Aime Cesaire one hundred years after his birth.

This year’s Literary Festival celebrated renowned Martinican writer, intellectual and politician Aime Cesaire one hundred years after his birth. He died in 2008.

Over  the  weekend of August 9 -11, 2013, the 6th edition of Dominica’s Nature Island  Literary Festival and Book Fair took place at the Open Campus  of  the

Literary Festival Chairman Dr. Alwin Bully and his Committee worked hard to ensure that the complete event ran as smoothly as possible for the enjoyment of everyone.

Literary Festival Chairman Dr. Alwin Bully and his Committee worked hard to ensure that the complete event ran as smoothly as possible for the enjoyment of everyone.

University of West Indies (UWI) near Roseau.  It wrapped up on Sunday evening at lovely Mero Beach, about a half hour drive up the west coast from the capital.

I am still mentally processing the words, ideas, expressions, performances and professions that moved my soul over the course of the three-day event.  While I did attend almost all  of it (with the exception of the well-received final evening on Mero Beach), I will show you how it positively affected me through my words and  photos.

I was particularly intrigued that this year’s Festival showcased the life and work of Monsieur Aimé Césaire, a famous Martiniquais who was not well-known in Dominica, despite the close proximity of the two islands.  By coincidence, I had only become somewhat familiar with him earlier in the year, thanks to the Alliance Française de la Dominique.  There, my instructors Director Carole Bogdanovscky and her husband Gildas Lefèvre exposed me to some of his work and ideas.  As well, there were recent performances of  two of his dramatic pieces: Cahier d’un retour au pays natal (Notebook of a Return to the Native Land), which was presented by famous French actor Jacques Martial as part of Francophone Month in March; and then his Shakespearian-based play Une tempête (A Tempest,)     which was performed in English and directed by none other than Literary Festival Chairman Dr.  Alwin Bully!

We were to gain more insight into the motivations, creations and character of this”Revolutionary French West Indian Writer” right from the Opening Ceremony.    Between  remarks from various local dignitaries and Dr. Bully’s  overview of the  Festival, we were entertained and instructed about Aimé Césaire and his work.  Of particular significance is that he developed a concept called la Négritude in the 1930’s.  Simply said, it was his firm belief that people of African origin  should reject colonialism and racism and take pride in their Black identity, culture and history.  Parts of some of his better-known creations were acknowledged, addressed, discussed and even performed throughout this event.

The audience was enthralled to have a little taste of 'A Tempest'.  In this scene (Act 1, Scene 2), Caliban, played by Haxey Salamant  confronts Prospero, played by Dr. Lennox Honychurch over numerous injustices.

The audience was enthralled to have a little taste of ‘A Tempest’. In this scene (Act 1, Scene 2), protagonist Caliban, played by Haxey Salamat (l) confronts antagonist Prospero, played by Dr. Lennox Honychurch over numerous injustices.

On the Friday night, the audience was given some exposure to Césaire’s political, cultural and social ideals through a reading of  selections from Notebook

In Act 3, Scene 2 of 'A Tempest', Cesaire injects considerable humor into his message of inequality and anti-colonialism by portraying two European drunkards ( Stephano and Trinculo) who discover Caliban asleep and discuss how they can 'exploit' him to their advantage.

In Act 3, Scene 2 of ‘A Tempest’, Cesaire injects considerable humor into his message of inequality and anti-colonialism by portraying two European drunkards ( Stephano (l) and Trinculo) who discover Caliban asleep under a blanket (far right) and discuss how they can ‘exploit’ him to their advantage.

of a Return to the Native Land (Cahier d’un retour au pays natal)  by Ann Bruno in French, followed by  Dr. Bully, who repeated each excerpt in English. We also had the pleasure of watching two scenes from Dr. Bully’s recently produced A Tempest (Une tempête), which thrilled the almost full house tremendously.  It was evident that this French West Indian playwright knew how to incorporate satirical humor to relay his message of the senselessness of  imperialism and racism set against the persistent struggle to obtain acceptance and  honour of the Black identity.

We were also graced with the presence of Monsieur Serge Letchimy, President of the Regional Council of Martinique, who spoke in French and Creole, which was translated into English by his assistant. He knew Césaire in the political circles of his country. He informed us that as well as being a recognized literary artist, Césaire was the mayor of Fort-de-France Martinique for 56 years (after which Letchimy followed him)!  He referred to Césaire as a “political emancipator,” and emphasized that it was this exceptional man’s fervent desire to have universal understanding and respect for Black people.

In addition, Keynote Speaker  and Scholar of Caribbean literature  Dominican Dr. Shuyler Esprit, PhD, provided us with more insights through her interpretation of Cahier d’un retour au pays natal(Notebook of a Return to the Native Land).  She emphasized that while Césaire’s vision was global, it stemmed from some deeply personal encounters with racism in France.  While there, he also met others of like mind, including  poet Léopold Senghor, who later became the first president of the west African country of Sénégal.

Keynote Speaker Dr. Schuyler Esprit is a Scholar of Caribbean literature who provided us with many insights into Aime Cesaire, the Festival's honoree.

Keynote Speaker Dr. Schuyler Esprit is a Scholar of Caribbean literature who provided us with many insights into Aime Cesaire, the Festival’s honoree.

With respect to the concept of la Négritude, she urged the attendees to “remember each other.  Remember the person sitting next to you.  You are part of a larger community. To be free, [we] must be together.”

On Saturday morning , I and about 25 others of all ages and experience met to take part in a ‘Writing Non-Fiction” workshop conducted by Dr. Schuyler Esprit.  It was one of a several intimate literary learning sessions that were offered as part of the Festival.  In her lively, enthusiastic and entertaining presentation, she focused on ‘Opinion Writing’.  She emphasized that,

Dr. Shuyler Esprit conducted a very informative and instructive workshop on writing Opinion Essays.  I will try to follow her advice that"less is more, less is good!"  She was also the Keynote Speaker on Friday night.

Dr. Shuyler Esprit conducted a very informative and instructive workshop on writing Opinion Essays. I will try to follow her advice that”less is more, less is good!”

“writing is about you!   [You have to] give [your] audience room to think and reflect on what you have written.”

Following the workshop, I went home for the lunch break and wrote a poem that placed second in one of the writing competitions.  You can read it here.

I arrived back at UWI later that afternoon to check out the Book Fair.  Although smaller this year, I always enjoy looking at the latest from Papillote Press, a London-based publishing house that specializes in ‘Dominicana’. I bought the latest release, a children’s story called ‘Look Back!’, which  is beautifully illustrated and strongly reflects Dominican culture and heritage through fiction.DSCF0452

Vincentian Phillip Nanton certainly knows how to tell a story. we held on to his every word!

Vincentian Phillip Nanton certainly knows how to tell a story. We held on to his every word!

Then I caught a fascinating ‘read’ by Phillip Nanton, a St. Vincentian born sociologist and writer, who offered the audience some humorous selections of his work, which got everyone chuckling.  He was followed by an expatriate countrywoman, Vonnie Roudette, who impressed the crowd with a slide show about her work as an artist, farmer and teacher in St. Vincent.  There, she developed a college level fine arts program, from  which students have benefited  tremendously.

The night was young – and I and other literary enthusiasts were  in for some  more performance treats!

Pardon my vernacular, but the young people who participated in the “Lyrics under the Stars” segment basically blew me away!  I was so impressed with their creativity, spontaneity, innate talent and courage that I can’t wait to see them perform again!

Nigel Durand's musicality was clearly evident on acoustic guitar.  He took me down memory lane as his performance reminded of 'coffee house' days in an earlier era!

Nigel Durand’s musicality was clearly evident on acoustic guitar. He took me down memory lane as his performance reminded me  of mellow ‘coffee house’ days in an earlier era!

This group of young poets, musicians and performers shows tremendous potential.  I look forward to hearing them again!

This group of young poets, musicians and performers shows tremendous potential. I look forward to hearing them again!

Hats off to their organizer and coordinator, Shawna Johnson for her energy, enthusiasm and dedication to the promotion of these young folks.

Reseau Poetique de la Guadeloupe fascinated the audience with a traditional form of spoken poetry set to an Ancient African rhythm.

Reseau Poetique de la Guadeloupe enthralled the audience with a traditional form of spoken poetry set to an ancient African rhythm.

There was more French flavour as the Réseau Poetique de la Guadeloupe entertained us with poems set to music with a traditional African rhythm called Gwo Ka on that French West Indian island.  In Dominica, this drum beat is referred to as Bélé.  They were certainly entertaining and gave the crowd a real feel for a different type of poetic presentation.

The high-caliber entertainment seemed endless. Dobrene O’Marde from Antigua

Dorbrene O'Marde from Antigua delighted everyone with his readings from his new novel Send out You Hand.

Dorbrene O’Marde from Antigua delighted everyone with his readings from his new novel Send Out You Hand.

read from his very popular book which suggests/implies Caribbean unity through its fictional plot and characters.  There were lots of laughs as he read some selections from ‘Send Out You Hand’.

Whitney Greenaway is a very talented award-wining 'slam' performance poet.  The Lit Fest audience loved her!

Whitney Greenaway is a very talented award-winning ‘slam’ performance poet. The Lit Fest audience loved her!

Then award-winning slam poet Whitney Greenaway took the stage and most definitely “knocked everyone’s socks off.”  You have to see this young lady perform if you ever get the chance.  Otherwise, check her out on you tube here.  She was born in the U.S. of Dominican parentage and was actually raised on the Nature Island by her grandmother.  She credits this close relative with being a great influence. Her poetic inspirations are very personal and moving.  I felt as if the entire audience could identify with her expressive musings.  I wish her all the best!

The evening ended for me here, even though there was still more.  I could not stay for it, but I hope to see Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck’s satirical ‘Moloch Tropical’ at another venue in the near future.

For me, the grande finale was Sunday morning, although others would later head off to Mero Beach for the evening performances and closing ceremony.  Fortunately, the weather did start to clear, as it had been a rainy weekend.  But I had been safe and dry, either under the big tent or in the UWI auditorium!

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Monsieur Serge Letchimy, President of the Regional Council of Martinique shared some of his personal reminiscences of the life and work of his colleague, the late Aime Cesaire.

The first  session, entitled ‘Celebrating Césaire’ was an all-encompassing one.  The panel  disclosed more revelations about this exceptional  French West Indian literary artist, intellectual and politician.  The speakers were : Dr. Alex Gil, a librarian from Columbia University who wrote his dissertation on Césaire. While doing his research, he actually discovered a manuscript of a play that was written by Césaire when Martinique was occupied during the Vichy regime in World War II.; Dr. Schuyler Esprit, a Caribbean literature scholar discussed the politics (through his works) of this French West Indian writer; and Monsieur Serge Letchimy, President of the Regional Council of Martinique  presented personal reminiscences of his compatriot.

The trio really painted a complete picture of this exceptional man.  He was collectively described as a “humanist,  poet and  thinker” who even revised his major works in order to appropriately express his views about Négritude in a meaningful manner that matched societal trends.   In an understated fashion, Césaire desired that Black people all over the world honour their history and identity by rejecting colonialism and racism.  He was called a man of freedom, as he was seen by many as a liberator of the oppressed.  It was a very comprehensive presentation and I hope that the material can be condensed into an article by a knowledgeable academic/researcher for publication.  Panelists, take note!

The auditorium at UWI was filled to capacity as an enthusiastic audience listened attentively to local historian Dr. Lennox Honychurch.

The auditorium at UWI was filled to capacity as an enthusiastic audience listened attentively to local historian Dr. Lennox Honychurch.

Dr. Lennox Honychurch addresses the audience with his revelations about this unusual and exceptional 17th century local dictionary.

Dr. Lennox Honychurch addressed the audience with his revelations about the compiler of this unique 17th century local dictionary.

The final  Festival presentation at UWI was greatly anticipated by a large number of people, and the packed auditorium was evidence of that.  Local historian Dr. Lennox Honychurch has a longstanding reputation for delivering fascinating and unusual aspects of Dominican history with great enthusiasm.  This session was no different.  The entire room was intrigued by his revelations about Father Raymond Breton, a  17th century French Dominican missionary who spent considerable time with the Kalinagos between 1641-53.  He also built the first church in Colihaut (on the west coast) and conducted the first mass in Dominica.  He became proficient in the language of these indigenous people and compiled a ‘Karib (Carib)-French’ dictionary of their words and expressions, which was published in 1665.  Then, the following year, he released the French-Karib (Carib) version.  These are very rare books – with single copies in Dominica and the Duke Humphrey’s Library in Oxford, England. Dr. Honychurch provided plenty of anecdotal information about this exceptional priest’s research: “It is a very involved dictionary,” as often whole phrases are used to describe one word.  He reiterated that Dominicans are still the largest users of the Kalinago language, albeit only a limited number of words.

After that amazing presentation, I was satiated with new knowledge and insights about people past and present who had contributed or are contributing significantly to the literary arts in the Caribbean region.  Although Festival activities continued at Mero Beach later that day, I returned to my home to digest, savor and process all the wonderful presentations and contributions from a diversity of academics and artists.

Heartfelt thanks to Chairman Dr. Alwin Bully and other the members of the Nature Island Literary Festival  Committee for their tremendous efforts in organizing this successful event.  It was, without a doubt, a feast for my soul!

A Feast for My Mind: Indulging in Dominica’s Nature Island Literary Festival and Book Fair

Whenever I am in Dominica for the summer, I  look forward to attending the Nature Island Literary Festival (NILF)   which is held at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Open Campus. It offers an extensive menu of local, regional and international books, talks, panel discussions and readings by renowned West Indian authors and poets.  As well, several workshops  are devoted to  expert guidance and instruction on techniques and tips on the craft of writing from the’ pros’.  There are many excellent offerings on the program and I  always come away from the 3-day event with fresh ideas and renewed inspiration as a writer and reading enthusiast. And best of all, it’s FREE!

My overview of NILF‘s program in 2010 is found here.

This year  (2012)marked the 5th anniversary of the event, and I was delighted to be on-island to partake of some of its tempting and intriguing selections.

Dr. Shuyler Esprit guides the class through the structural components of a NY Times Book Review of ‘Autobiography of My Mother’ by Jamaica Kincaid. This book is actually set in Dominica.

As a journalist, I benefited tremendously from two  workshops that I selected out of several others that were offered before and during the Literary Festival.  My first option was a three session pre-festival course on ‘Reviewing the Creative Arts’.  It was facilitated by Dr. Shuyler Esprit, a Dominican woman who is an Assistant Professor of English at Trinity Washington University in D.C., USA.  Over six hours, she skillfully guided us through the techniques,analytical tactics and structural outlines that are necessary for creating suitable arts reviews targeted at specific audiences.

Professor Elizabeth Nunez, renowned bestselling novelist dramatically emphasizes a point during her  Fiction Workshop at the Literary Festival.

My other workshop choice presented me with an opportunity to learn more about writing fiction from a ‘pro’. Trinidadian/American Dr. Elizabeth Nunez,  a Distinguished Professor at City University of New York and author of eight best-selling novels took time out from her busy schedule to host this session. She offered her enthusiastic audience considerable advice about this craft as a “process of self-discovery.”  She also ensured that we all were familiar with the structural aspects of this art. Her practical disclosures about attracting a publisher could also prove to be invaluable!

NILF Chairman Dr. Alwin Bully welcomed an attentive audience during the Opening Ceremony. He outlined the program for the weekend and revealed that historically, there have been other literary-minded groups in Dominica. An interest in books definitely continues to thrive!

The high calibre of presentations by these specialists was typical of all the sessions that I  attended over the weekend.  The  number of notable writers and poets at this event was phenomenal.  I felt so fortunate to be able to listen, participate, mix and mingle with such prominent literary personalities.  These people have certainly put West Indian literature “on the map!”

Professor George Lamming addresses the audience at the Opening Ceremony of the Nature Island Literary Festival 2012.

All seats were taken under the big tent during the Official Opening Ceremony of the Nature Island Literary Festival 2012.

Consider Professor George Lamming, Keynote Speaker at the Friday night Opening Ceremony.  This erudite octogenarian and award-winning novelist entranced the audience with his articulations about “the education of feeling,” that is, engaging the reader in feeling for the characters in a novel.  The scholarly Barbadian further expressed that we don’t read fiction for our heads, but for our hearts.  I agree with that pronouncement!

I confess that I did not have a real interest in poetry until I taught literature in senior high school.  It was only when I studied it at a deeper level that I developed a fascination with this literary art form.  My newer-found delight was further enhanced by impressive poetic renditions at this event.  The readers, or should I say performers used dramatic techniques that definitely brought different types of poems to life.

Lasana Sekou, preeminent literary artist from St. Martin.

 Adrian Green, a spoken word artist from Barbados and Lasana Sekou,  a prolific poet from St. Martin held me spellbound with their theatrical poetic performances, which were expressed through their highly articulate voices.  I will especially never forget Sekou’s spellbinding poetic presentation of a traditional West Indian cock-fight.

Adrian Green, Spoken Word Artist from Barbados.

Students from Convent High School entertained the Opening Ceremony audience with their creative choral speech performance.

Although the Literary Festival took place in mid-summer,some  students did take part and were welcome at all sessions.  During the Opening Ceremony, girls from Convent High School in Roseau entertained the audience with their own choral speech creation.  I hope that this type of unifying art will be encouraged at all schools – not just in Dominica – but worldwide!

My enduring fascination with Dominican literature was once again satiated at NILF.  Every year, there are sessions devoted to the Dominican literary perspective.  A panel discussion, interspersed with readings from an unpublished manuscript belonging to the late Dominican author, poet and politician Phyllis Shand Allfrey captured my rapt attention for over an hour.  Many attendees in the packed UWI auditorium agreed that they would like to continue to learn about her life and work, thanks to information disclosed during this presentation.

Dominican Dr.  Irving André reads a selection from his biography about prominent businessman Elias Nassief.

I also got to hear Honourable Judge Dr.  Irving André, a Dominican/Canadian who  sits on the bench of the Ontario Court  of Justice near  Toronto. He read from his compelling biography about Elias Nassief, a deceased  Dominican businessman.  Dr. André has produced a number of biographies about memorable Dominicans and significant episodes in local history through Pond Casse Press, of which he is a co-founder.

Dr. Lennox Honychurch reaches for a text written by a traveler to Dominica in an earlier era.

On Sunday morning, the seats were again all filled in the UWI auditorium as people gathered to hear preeminent local historian Dr. Lennox Honychurch talk about travel writers who have spent time near or on Dominica since 1493!  (This year is significant as that is when Columbus first sighted the island.  There were even some writers on the 17 ships  in his entourage!) Dr. Honychurch’s accompanying Power Point presentation really added to the detailed overview of those who  have been compelled to write about Dominica since the 15th century.

By late Sunday afternoon, my plate was overflowing with numerous tastes of West Indian literature. While there was so much more on the menu, I was completely satisfied with my own literary meal at the 2012 Nature Island Literary Festival and Book Fair.

During the event, there were  also opportunities to listen to some wonderful music by the Sixth Form Sisserou Singers and the Venezuelan Institute’s Cuatro Band. The Roseau Public Library was well represented with an interesting display of Dominican books and archival newspapers. Local foods were readily available, one could compete for prizes in writing contests, participate in open mic sessions and of course, there were books  for sale and exchange!  I was thrilled to have Dr. Elizabeth Nunez autograph two of her latest books for me.

Papillote Press is a small publisher  specializing in books about different aspects of Dominica.

It was fun to look over the available books and do a trade from one’s own collection in exchange for something appealing on the table.

Finally, I would be very remiss if I did not sincerely thank Chairman Dr. Alwin Bully and the entire Nature Island Literary Festival Committee for their dedication, desire and determination which resulted in a first class, freely available feast for many minds! I also salute  the sponsors who generously contributed to enable the success of this  event. I eagerly await the next one!