Saturday, June 14, 2014

Despatches: Memories of Calabash, 2014


Calabash was, as usual, a feast of emotions. You come away from Calabash full of writing and determined to write, even if you don’t. But yes, I have, in spite of my Capricorn spirit which insists that work should be completed before everything else.

The last time we had Calabash and I did my blog on it, I focused on things said that I thought could be applicable to children’s literature. This time I think I’ll just share what moved me, what contributed to that gorgeous feeling of fullness to overflowing. And I must declare that regretfully, I only stayed one day – Saturday.

Because I so admire the craft of writing and writers, just being in their presence can make me joyous. (Yes, I know I’m one too, but I don’t seem quite mysterious enough to myself). So to hear and see Mervyn Morris - our poet laureate - and Velma Pollard, although I know them personally, is still a delight for me. Hearing Zaidie Smith -  a feast of words. I love the voice in her work, the voice in her voice.

In the following, if anything is a direct quote, it would purely be by chance. Consider everything reported speech, and anything not quite right, my fault, and not that of the writer to whom the comment is ascribed.

Christopher Farley read from an adult work as well as from his YA novel. I don’t know if this means that YA has made a transition to Calabash. Probably not. We’ll see. He said kids need to see books with children of colour. We’ve been saying this for so long, and yet . . .

Karen Lord from Barbados pointed out that ‘choices lead to change and opportunity, and are the cutting edge of chaos, but even chaos cannot overcome choices’.  Fascinating! I’m still thinking that through. It’s as if this should after all be quite obvious, and yet there are depths still to be fully understood - implications.

In the interview with Salman Rushdie he spoke of  ‘fiction as a journey to the truth’;  ‘man as a story telling animal;  helping us to understand what sort of creatures we are’. And then I remembered our own Derek Walcott saying at another Calabash that  'in the Caribbean we still tell stories, which is what the human heart craves'.

What is it about Calabash? It is in itself magical; the venue combined with the auras of the people? No, I don’t think  it’s the camaraderie, although that is certainly there. It’s a quietness, a resting; even with the music drumming and throbbing into you, it’s quiet and restful. The sea, the breezes at Treasure Beach? Ah the sea! Perhaps that is it. Just writing about it brings back the desire to write, to create.

So this is a short post. Perhaps the effect of  football World Cup.
And now I’m back at Calabash and I’m just going to upload my photos. Perhaps I should take way from Calabash that work does not have to come before everything else. About time!


  1. Great blogs, I could read them all night. Calabash really was magical.It was great being around writers, hearing them speak with such passion. I especially enjoyed the reading of "Go The R*** to Sleep" lol and "Sugar In The Blood".

    I've heard so much about you and Kellie. Unfortunately, I was a bit shy at the event and approached no writers.Kellie was right there in front of me too! Probably next time :-) I visit your blog from time to time so don't take too long to post something new:P. Take care!

  2. Thank you for your kind comments, Irie Caterpillar (Great name, by the way!) Next time you see me, come right over and introduce yourself. It would be nice to meet you. All the best